I saw an article published in the Globe and Mail this month that generated a firestorm of polarizing comments — 1,351 (to date) to be specific. It was shared on Facebook over 1,000 times, and inspired 500 tweets. It was about a recent grad’s difficulties in landing that first job.
Incidentally, I also received a reader question in our Ask a Recruiter column for the Globe and Mail recently about getting a job without experience. It’s a hot topic right now.
In the business world, this Millennial/Gen Y generation is often described by previous generations as being entitled, demanding, and having unrealistic expectations. Of course, these are not the most enticing descriptors for hiring managers, and if we accept these perceptions at face value, our instinct may simply be: run!
If employers take the time to study what makes this young generation tick however, they are likely to find Millennials can be incredibly good for the health and profitability of a business. We interview hundreds of Millennials every day, so we wanted to take this opportunity to share our key learnings with you on how to optimize this new workforce.
- Create a culture of inclusion: Millennials like to get involved, be heard and feel like they have a stake in the business. They can bring a fresh set of eyes to your business, and often their recommendations can be quite valuable.
- Set clear expectations: Colleges and universities can sometimes lead students to think: “I have a good education, I should be paid what I’m worth.” But this thinking is a debate of self-worth versus what you are paid to do. Clarify that remuneration is based on what the current job is worth to the company, and create a plan for growth for these young professionals. If Millennials see greater rewards ahead of them, they will be inspired to work harder. Both of you can then work towards realistic pre-set expectations.
- Strive for work/life integration: Gen X culture tends to advocate that life must fit into work. Millennials however want to shape their jobs to fit into their lives. Given that we are plugged in almost 24/7 today, work/life integration is key. This means, if Millennials get an opportunity to do what they love, they may never stop working, because it won’t feel like work to them (this can also be true for other generations). So focus on work inspiration, rather than workload, to get the best performance out of Millennials.
- Benefit from flexibility: Millennials just want an opportunity to gain experience. They are highly trainable (without pre-conceived notions of how to do things). They’ve grown up in a technology era where everything is constantly evolving, so they are highly adaptable to change. They are often moveable too (both nationally and globally), which can benefit the company.
- Make long-term investments though entry-level salaries: It can be argued that people are a company’s greatest asset, and consequently, they are your greatest investment. Hiring Millennials in entry-level roles, and encouraging them to grow within the company can have a very positive impact on a company’s bottom line.
This generation brings different values and thinking to the table. The key is to be open to this diversity, so your company can continue to grow dynamically.