Why Millennials Matter

If you’re finding that some of your younger staff aren’t as motivated as their older colleagues by a decent wage, an upward career path and financial security, it’s probably because they are Millennials. The term relates to those born during the ascension of the Internet. They have always known a connected world with constant online access, broadband, smart phones and social media. You need to be aware of this because it will change the way you attract, recruit and retain staff and you may need to modify your expectations of how they approach work.

A number of studies over recent years have highlighted the difference in attitude towards work displayed by this new breed of employee as well as their own expectations. With instant access to information being the norm, the millennial workforce expects a job to offer varied and interesting duties, rapid career progression and constant, positive feedback.

Whilst we might expect the outlook of younger people to be influenced by their (lack of) responsibilities, millennials do seem to take a different stance towards their motivation for work than we may be used to. In more than one survey that we looked at, a good salary comes after work-life balance and opportunity for progression. Moreover, millennials don’t necessarily expect to stay in the same job or with the same employer for an extended period as we might expect those of the “baby boomer” generation to have done. Millennials expect to have many jobs of relatively short terms.

The prolificacy of the Internet and social media has also seemed to have manufactured a need for an expectation of immediacy. Access to information and knowledge of just about everything is at our fingertips in seconds and this seems to have influenced how quickly millennials expect to see praise, reward and recognition. In addition, the rise of the Gig Economy is nurturing a workforce that can pick and choose their hours of work in the knowledge that this directly impacts their earnings.

The employers who are going to benefit the most from the millennial phenomenon are those who form a strategy for employing them. With information so readily available, experience may not be such a big measure of a candidate’s suitability for a role as their ability to source, access and apply the knowledge to do it. After all there are videos on YouTube that demonstrate how to do just about everything from computer coding to plumbing.

Keeping something back in an employee’s role may also become part of an employer’s toolkit when managing staff retention. Extra duties or responsibilities that can be awarded as recognition for a job well done might serve to appease the recognition that millennials appear to crave. A pre-planned pay rise may also need to form part of this tactic. Tying employees in by adding a repayment clause for money invested in training can be an effective, if somewhat blunt tool.

On the flip-side, the short employment terms of modern employees means that employers will want to maximise productivity from them. Don’t hang on to under-performers or those who are too needy. If necessary shorten your probationary periods to send a clear message that new employees need to hit the ground running.

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