My name is Faina Sherman, an intern for Enhanced Retail Solutions and a millennial that believes in a new age of employment. Millennials are the generation that grew up witnessing major technology disrupters like the internet, smart phones, and now social media. Their world was shaped by convenience, immediate information, and efficiency. According to Erika Anderson from Forbes Magazine, millennials make up close to 35% of the work force and that number is expected to grow to 50% over the next decade.
Allow me to introduce the millennial employee, an ambitious and information hungry group of individuals with a strong work ethic and calm demeanor. Millennial employees enjoy work that keeps them busy, gives them purpose, and challenges them.
Before I was an intern at ERS, I was a general interviewer at a university call center. I would call individuals from a list provided by our clients and I would ask them to complete an over-the-phone interview. The interviews were lengthy, repetitive, and the tasks were minimal so there was no opportunity to use critical thinking skills or be engaged in the organization. This call center had a very high employee turnover rate and, no surprise, 85% of the employees were millennials and their average employment lifetime was 1 month.
I’m here to share some important tips that companies can use to capitalize on their millennial employees.
- Millennials need purpose and responsibility. Majority of millennials have grown up under a style of parenting that supports empowerment and responsibility, where the kids were involved in many family and life decisions. Millennials are experienced multi-taskers and are pros at managing time efficiently, that’s why it is important to keep them engaged! Jay Coldren of EDITION advises employers to “try to create opportunities that give Millennials the chance to take responsibility and find success on a micro level before they move on to larger roles.” Millennials require a role in the organization that can provide them with a sense of purpose and how they can help the organization reach its goals. Millennials seeks purpose from everything, even shopping. As David Matsil from Enhanced Retail Solutions put it; “the millennial generation is so unique in the sense that rather than being driven by value and price they are more focused on trends, especially those with a purpose”. The relationship between millennials and their shopping habits can be a surprisingly good resource for employers to use to understand the millennial generation and their values.
- Millennials like structure and guidance- but then let them soar! Without guidance, anyone can be sitting at their desk and banging their head when stuck on a project at work. Caroline Kennedy said it perfectly: “Provide structure. Set goals. Define assignments. Establish due dates”. Those 8 words may seems drastically simple but they provide a lot of meaning behind them. One of the most effective ways to do this is to create training programs that can help millennial employees in developing crucial skills and bettering themselves.
- Work-life balance is essential! Another way that employers can attract and keep their millennial employees is by creating a work environment that is flexible and encourages work/life integration. Most millennials are active in their communities so they enjoy taking part of local events and activities. A good integration technique that many employers use is to have work events that encourage employee networking and collaboration. UF College of Dentistry (my former employer) organized post-work events that invited employees to go to a billiard bar for drinks and a few rounds of pool. After they instituted these small company-wide events, employee morale not only increased but so did productivity. The happier people are at work, the more they will do for the company.
- Feedback is the key to improvement. During their childhood and development, many millennials received feedback as to how they were progressing. This involvement often stemmed from their parents and other figures who had a significant role in their lives. The contrast can be alarming when they arrive at their first professional position and have no one to provide them with feedback and tell them how they’re doing.
If you want to attract and retain the best employees in this new generation of workers, you have to remember that purpose, structure, flexibility, and feedback are all the key characteristics needed to engage a millennial. The balance between these core ideas with the goals of the company can position the company, and all of its employees, for success.
–Faina Sherman, a student at the University of Florida in Gainesville, interned at ERS summer of 2017.