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Millennials: Can’t live with them… pass the Pomme Frites.

Millennials are generally defined as “a person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000”… As an elder of said generation, I feel it’s important to understand why Gen Y, those born in the 1980’s and 1990’s, is of particular interest in Pop Culture, Marketing and specific to my current thesis, the workplace.pommes-firtes

For a hiring manager, whether you are a Baby Boomer, Gen X or even a Millennial yourself, how to motivate, engage and retain the Millennials will be important –It’s not a reason to change your business, your hiring practices or your beliefs but “they” say that millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2030… 75 PERCENT of the workforce – that’s a staggering number!  It warrants some insight, because let’s face it, the model Gen X has been discontinued.

Due to an attitude of constant accessibility, continuous growth and collaboration, the average Millennials will stay in any given role for 2 years; a significant reduction from the Gen X’s with an average of 5 years and their parents the Baby Boomers who averaged 7 years with an employer.  Why is this?  Millennials are the fastest growing generation of customers and are characterized with fast-paced technology, meaning they live in a world that is drastically different than their parents.  They are now the largest age tranche in the workplace AND they value different benefits from their employers than previous generations.  I’m sure Gen X’s were baffled with the traditionalist views of Baby Boomers when they first entered the workplace as well… we didn’t hear about it, because blogs weren’t as cool back then.

Growing up with educated parents, infinite resources and access to information in this digital age, the Millennials are more efficient problem solvers and require challenge to keep engaged.  A hiring manager that invests in their Millennials’ professional development by assigning more challenging work, supporting career development and here’s the kicker, providing frequent and continuous feedback are more likely to retain their A-Players.  I feel the need to insert a “Thanks Capitan Obvious” here.  This all sounds reasonable and common place in todays’ workplace, but maybe it’s not!  I get the heebie-jeebies thinking of my painful Annual Performance Reviews, when it was clear that my Manager simply did a Replace All of a colleagues name for mine.  “Jennifer continues to meet expectations”.  Thanks dude, my name’s George.  As a hiring manager, to create a workplace to foster all of the above, I think the rapport between staff & superior must extend past the formality of a work relationship – Find ways to connect with your Millennials and get a little personal.  Whether in substance or fact make their workflow about them and they will love you for it.  Oh and boatloads of accolades, we love that.

Millennials have a need for accessibility as compared to their predecessor generation.  Clearly with the success of iPhones, AirBnB and Spotify, Millennials’ life revolves around constant accessibility and convenience.  Right now I am depositing a cheque, stalking Drake via twitter and ordering groceries for a prompt 5pm pick-up!  With this accessibility in all other facets of life, Millennials appreciate (but do not expect) an employer that attempts to bring this accessibility into their workflow.  Hiring Managers should consider if smart phones, remote access, collaborative work spaces and non-traditional ways to connect with clients and colleagues work for their business.

I know I don’t speak for all Millennials, but I believe there is a key perception disconnect between hiring managers and their “mover & shaker” Gen Ys – Hiring Mangers’ believe their (unload all stereotypes here: lazy, entitled and egomaniac) Gen Y’s are motivated by Money.  Money is important, but money does not always equate to success.  Money is an incentive or driver for success but most Gen Y’s true motivation lies in meaningful work.  Millennials want to feel like their efforts make a difference in one way or another – they want to see a clear or tangible line between their efforts and impact, whether that impact is client focused, fiscally focused or translate into a good or service.  Hiring managers can help clarify this link by being collaborative with their staff, including them in the big picture and ensuring their Millennials understand that if they are a small cog in the machine, the machine only works if their cog is effective.

It’s important to acknowledge the differences between you and your Millennials. Organizations that realize this paradigm shift or tailor their workplace to the changing demographic will be better prepared to attract and retain the next wave of employees.  Collaborate and learn from each other, don’t blindly believe the stereotypes but understand the cause behind them and the key to me is to challenge them, because they are narcissistic enough to rise to it.winky

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