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The Key to Managing Millennials

Posted on September 08, 2015

Watching episodes of Mad Men makes one realize the work world has changed a lot over the last 60 years. No longer do people smoke at their desks or wear a shirt and tie every day to the office (let alone even a nice pair of shoes).

While a lot has changed in the appearance and behaviors of the modern-day employee, perhaps the greatest shift is in the idea of lifetime employment - the plan of getting a good job at a good company, working there for 20-30 years, securing a pension and retiring. Granted these jobs still exist but developments like broad-based layoffs, giant corporate institutions declaring bankruptcy, and the demise of company pension plans have deeply shaken the public’s faith in lifetime employment.

Indicative of this is job-hopping, once considered a poor employment record, is no longer viewed with disdain. According to this study, 57 percent of people between the ages of 18-34, so-called “Millennials”, think changing jobs often is good for a person’s career.

The Job-Hopping Millennials

Job-hopping is the norm for most Millennials. According to the Atlantic, young workers are more likely to be unemployed and to regard their employment record as experimenting with jobs until settling down with one.

This might explain executives’ historic reluctance to take on and train younger workers, often expressed as “Why invest in an asset that's going to disappear in a few months, anyway?”

But, looking at the historical record, young workers aren’t any more likely to leave a particular job today as they were in the past. What is different is more young workers, when not engaged at their current job, are more likely to try an entirely new career. The modern job market is much more fluid, with many workers moving between jobs, than it was in the past.

The Key to Engaging Millennials

Engaging with Millennials is important because in this year, 2015, they will surpass Baby Boomers to become the largest workforce demographic, predicted to make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Future business success is about to become connecting and engaging with this emerging workforce power.

The key to understanding Millennials is knowing how they differ from older workers. While 64% of older workers are mostly interested in making a lot of money or learning new skills on job, a majority of younger workers (57 percent) were more interested in doing work they found enjoyable or making a difference in society. It can be said the younger generation is much less paycheck-driven and much more purpose-driven.

Most of all, younger workers want to feel engaged in their job; too many feel unheeded and disrespected and quickly move onto the next gig. A wise course of action for employers was articulated by Richard Branson, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to.”

To engage with fickle Millennials and to give them a sense of purpose means employers should listen to and be receptive to their feedback. Acting upon their suggestions and encouraging their participation in their first 30 days means lower turnover (a significant cost), better results, higher profits, and a higher stock price.

It’s a wonder more companies haven’t moved in this direction sooner - engaging with Millennials means encouraging more conversation with them and embracing the technology that allows this communication to happen.

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