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Millennial Mania: Courting and Keeping the Most In-Demand Demographic


Blog Post

Life stage differences drive most decisions


Mark Keeton, Vice President
Solution Management

Ah millennials. Everyone wants them and there are many, many articles, books and consultants dedicated to dissecting exactly what this demographic born between the early 80s and 2000s wants.


The answer is simple, according to Harvard Business Review: Millennials want the same things that older workers want — to make a difference in their organization, do work they are passionate about and manage work-life balance.


You can find hundreds of articles online that describe millennials as narcissistic, distracted, job switchers. The reality is that lumping everyone in an age group into those categories does everyone a disservice. Sure, there are millennials that are narcissistic or distracted. There also are plenty of baby boomers and Gen Xers that fall into those categories.


So instead of seeking ways to recruit a demographic, companies should concentrate on building a culture that makes everyone eager to share in the work.


 An CNBC study reiterates the Harvard Business Review findings. In ranking six categories for potential employers (ethics, environmental practices, work-life balance, profitability, diversity and reputation for hiring the best and the brightest), millennials rated the categories the same as other demographic groups. There are areas where millennials rated work-life balance and job advancement higher than other groups but those differences are more about being part of a younger generation than being specifically born during the millennial period, the survey says. 

“Meaningful differences among generations probably do not exist in the workplace. The small differences that do appear are likely attributable to factors such as stage of life more than generational membership,” — Harvard Business Review, Department of Defense and University of Washington study

So what can organizations do to create a culture where everyone wants to work?

·         Be aware of speed of change. Yes, millennials may seem to switch jobs regularly and stay at companies for shorter periods of time but that’s because life is moving more quickly than it ever has. Compare communication in the 1960s to today. In the 60s, people depended on newspapers published daily and perhaps a once daily television news broadcast or radio broadcast. Contrast that to today’s constant stream of information. It doesn’t take days or weeks to see a new job posting or to apply. It can be a matter of seconds. Companies need to be agile, flexible and prepared for quick change.

·         Don’t succumb to trendy perks. A foosball table can be great for a couple of days but when there is real work to be done, no one has time to play. Instead, focus on benefits that can make a significant impact on quality of life. A favorite example is leadership-enforced company email holidays. Setting this expectation means that employees may truly enjoy their time off without fear of missing an important email. Of course, adding the caveat that their help may be required in case of emergency helps mitigate any issues if there really is a need to contact them during time off.

·         Invest in managers who care. Many, many employees leave companies when they don’t believe they are valued or feel micromanaged. Investing in training for managers who believe in nurturing employees in their careers will pay off in spades down the road. And, even if employees leave for different opportunities, they’ll still have positive feelings about your company and hopefully will continue to say good things in spite of their new gig.

·         Fulfill your promises and ensure employees are proud to work for your company.

·         Treat employees well and reward and recognize them for good work. All employees want to be respected, valued and treated fairly.

·         Everyone knows that work isn’t fun every day but if you can connect your employees to your mission and help them understand and care about your goals, they will be more interested and motivated to do great work. 


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