Posted on Scientific Staffing. 8 August, 2018
According to recent figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau, millennials have surpassed baby boomers as the largest living generation. By 2020, it is estimated that nearly half of all U.S. workers will be millennials. Although the dates used by demographers to define the millennial generation often differ slightly, the term generally refers to the roughly 80 million young adults that were born in the last two decades of the twentieth century (approximately 1980-2000).
In the time since millennials first began to enter the workforce in significant numbers at the beginning of the 21st century, it has become clear that they are different than workers from previous generations (Generation X and baby boomers). This fact has sent corporations like GE scrambling to adjust both recruiting techniques and corporate culture in order to attract and retain high quality millennial talent. Companies can’t rely on the typical avenues that they implemented for baby boomers. In this blog, we will explore some of the characteristics that make young workers from the millennial generation unique and different from their elders.
Possibly the most defining feature of the millennial generation is their high level of familiarity with and use of digital technologies – social media, broadband internet, wireless technologies, smart phones, laptops, etc. Millennials are the first generation to come of age in the digital era, with relatively easy access to computers and all things digital. Those entering the workforce thus frequently have a better grasp of business tools and technology than their more senior managers. Millennials are well-networked and very self-expressive through their high level of engagement with social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Reddit.
With vast amounts of information available at their fingertips, millennials are used to getting their answers online and doing their own research. They generally don’t do well with the traditional, top-down pyramidal corporate structure, especially when in an authoritarian setting. This is not to say that management structure needs to change, but instead millennials work best in a collaborative, supportive environment that promotes teamwork and idea generation from every position level.
In a recent survey conducted by the University of North Carolina (UNC) Kenan-Flagler Business School and the Young Entrepreneurs Council, millennials prioritized meaningful work over high pay, and 65% of millennials rated personal development as the most influential factor in their current job. Millennials are, in fact, driven by purpose and want their work to somehow contribute to making the world a better place.
Some of the other millennial characteristics captured by this survey were:
With these defining characteristics of the millennial generation in mind, how can organizations best adjust to what is rapidly becoming a millennial workforce and achieve success in hiring and retaining millennials?
Attracting and Retaining Millennials
It seems fitting to begin the discussion on how to hire and retain millennials by highlighting companies that are extremely effective in this arena – Google and Apple. While these companies don’t specifically target millennials for recruitment, their company culture, management and recruitment style are very attractive to the millennial generation. While not all companies have the opportunity to be the tech giants of the world, we can use some of their strategies on how to attract and retain this talent.
Millennials are a talented, dynamic and creative generation, the best of which can be hard to find and even more difficult to keep. A strategic approach, which takes into account the unique facets of this generation, is necessary to attract and retain millennial talent. That said, the strategy has to be reality-based. Superficial changes dreamed up in a boardroom to connect to the younger generation will not work. Don’t expect token diversity, greenwashed mission statements or products, and a contrived social media campaign to help you keep high quality millennial talent on staff. The conversation that is established with millennials must be genuine, and the corporate culture must change to accommodate the expectations of this new generation. Those companies that successfully adapt to the incoming millennial workforce will ride the wave of creativity that these talented professionals bring to reach the greatest levels of success in this digital age.
About the Author
|Mary Schwans is the Managing Director of Astrix Technology Group’s Staffing Division and is a recruiting expert in the Scientific field. She joined Astrix in 2006 where she has been responsible for the startup and success of the division by growing it from its infancy into an emerging leader in the scientific recruiting field. Ms. Schwans has a strong technical background. She graduated with her BS in Biology from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and first began her career as a scientist in academic laboratories. Ms. Schwans is also part of several Scientific organizations and has held board positions with ALMA|
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