Game-Changing Talent

Talent Planning and Millennials: Meet Them Where They Are

Jean Orrison

“What is most important to you in a job?”

Robert Bellovin, former media relations manager at Software Advice, posed this question to a random sampling of 1,355 applicants for sales positions. In the resulting report, Bellovin showed what Generation Y employees – aka millennials – desire in their jobs, as well as the differences in career patterns from previous generations.

By 2020, millennials (born approximately between 1981 and 2000) will make up 50% of the global workforce. While a millennial employee will hold as many as 20 different jobs during their career, employees belonging to the baby boomer generation (born approximately between 1945 and 1964) will work an average of 11 jobs. Clearly, boomers value stability. But what do millennials value? And how can you shape your talent plans to reflect the changing face of the workforce?

Any manager or recruiter worth their salt can tell you that there ARE differences between millennials and previous generations. And chances are, they won’t be talking about the positives. But challenges also open the door for opportunities. Here’s what we’ve learned about working with millennials, and how you can turn common frustrations into a win for everyone.

Know this about millennials:

They are going to ask you “Why?” a lot.

They expect to be actively led.

They will expect you to be a coach.

They expect praise – whether deserved or not.

They are discouraged by rigid roles and schedules, lack of feedback, jobs that aren’t aspirational, and a slow pace of promotions.

Now, before you start feeling frustrated, let’s look at how to leverage their strengths to strengthen your organization overall.

Hiring Millennials

Bellovin’s report found that the number one thing millennials look for in a job is a sizable salary as well as quality, thorough benefits. Pretty standard fare.

But with millennials, show them them how your goals express their values – 60% of millennials choose their company based on “sense of purpose.” Be clear about your non-negotiables and provide specific, preferably visual, examples of your expectations (for instance, a SlideShare of your dress code). Oh, and make sure you celebrate new hires!

Managing Millennials

Another of Bellovin’s millennial-specific findings was that they expressed a desire to work at a company with a positive and healthy culture, using adjectives such as “friendly,” “pleasant,” “challenging,” and “dynamic” to describe their ideal atmosphere.

Millennials respond to opportunities for advancement and recognition, which can work especially well if you can show them how less desirable projects are important to the company mission and can lead to promotions. Set explicit targets and schedule frequent, structured feedback. Last, but certainly not least, accept this generation’s social media dependency and find ways to make it work for you.

Motivating and Retaining Millennials

Millennials, more so than other segments, particularly value job satisfaction in their careers, and want to have both a personal interest in and enjoy their daily work. These employees want growth and development opportunities, as well as a company that is focused on accomplishments and recognition.

You can really start to motivate millennials when you cultivate their innate talent by framing less-desirable roles as career milestones. Reward their success on challenging projects and in attaining specific outcomes, and offer flexibility in exchange for good performance. Assigning them a coach or mentor will go a long way toward getting them fully on board with your mission.

We Are Not Really That Different After All

The workplace is definitely evolving, but millennial employees want a few things: solid salary and benefits, to enjoy their work environment, recognition for their efforts, opportunities to develop professionally, and to connect their daily work to greater overall meaning and purpose. We are not really that different after all.

If you can meet millennials where they are – by connecting with their inclinations and identify their strengths – you can shape their ambitions and show them how to build a meaningful career. And when you can do that, you’ll be building your business with motivated, productive, game-changing team members.

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