Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Workforce Institute board member, John Frehse, Managing Partner at Core Practice and a sought after speaker on the topic of workforce management.
We’ve all heard the negatives thrown around about Millennials: they’re lazy, entitled, and nothing like the generations who came before them. The struggle to hire and retain this well-educated, passionate, and demanding generation has left many employers frustrated and confused. But the real problem might be that employers have failed to understand who Millennials really are, what they want, and how they fit into the fabric of the ever-changing economy.
Rather than relying on lazy and often erroneous stereotypes, it’s helpful to think in terms of 3 key forces that are driving Millennial behavior:
1. The first is cultural: We have devalued the perception of what are traditionally considered “blue collar” jobs even though they are secure, high-paying, and often coupled with generous benefits. Despite the numerous opportunities in industries with blue collar jobs, few millennials aspire to enter this segment of the job market. Millennials believe that they need to have a four-year degree to be successful and get a “good job.” Indeed, they are passing on opportunities to enter the blue-collar workforce, learn a skilled trade, receive paid on-the-job training, and graduate with zero debt. Instead, they are going to four-year schools where many of them will graduate with over $100,000 of debt. Even with a four-year degree, many Millennials still struggle to find permanent employment and will be perpetually under-employed at positions that do not require a college education.
2. The second factor is social: Marriage rates are in a free-fall compared with previous generations. As a matter of fact, Millennials have the lowest marriage rates of any previous generation and more than double the number of people are not getting married compare with the Generation X. This decline has a significant impact on other components of their lives. The demand for higher incomes to support a family is greatly diminished and many Millennials are opting to live at home with their parents. With housing costs and other incidentals picked up by others, Millennials can afford to not fight for the promotion or work the extra hours. A part-time job may be the only thing they need to cover their living expenses.
3. The third is financial: Millennials are making less than previous generations. According to the US Census, 18-34 year olds were making $35,845 on an inflation-adjusted basis in 1980. Today, this same age group is making $3,472 less ($33,883). This decrease is coupled with an increase in education from the same time period. 15.7% had a college education or higher in 1980. Today that number is 22.3%. There is a clear negative correlation.
So, taking these forces into consideration, what should employers be thinking about when it comes to recruiting, retaining and engaging Millennials?
1. Millennials have very different work preferences than non-Millennial generations. When it comes to hourly employment, shift length, day-on and day-off patterns, overtime opportunities, and shift start and stop times should be approached differently when it comes to Millennials.
2. Employee engagement is more critical then ever. Millennials want to learn more and like obtaining additional skills. What if you could give employees what they want and improve the bottom line? Innovative labor strategies can become a competitive advantage when recruiting key talent and improve operational performance.
3. More than 48 million additional retirees will leave the workforce by 2020. You better make sure you have aggressive millennial-centric labor strategies to actively recruit, engage, and retain employees to fill the empty spots.
4. Inaction will make things worse. Finding the best and brightest employees is only going to become more difficult as time goes on.
5. Millennials talk a lot and share on social media constantly! Invest in them. They will become your most successful recruiters.
Employers who continue to try to change Millennials and mold them into something more closely resembling previous generations will be left behind. Instead, they must adapt to the changing preferences of this new generation. By understanding the forces driving the changing landscape and reacting to those forces in a way that welcomes Millennials into the fold, employers can ensure that they are hiring the best and brightest and will continue to do so for generations to come.