Your People Are Our Business

Thirsty Thursdays: Millennials - Why Is This Still A Thing?

Thirsty Thursday: Millennials - Why Is This Still a Thing?

I believe it was back in the 1980's a TIME Magazine cover had an anonymous male in a business suit and tie, with the image cut off so it didn't show his head, and the article was about the terrifying doom and gloom that was about to befall Corporate America as Generation X was entering the workplace.  THE HORROR!!  The alarm because of their rebelliousness, how different they were from the preceding generations and the cries of"how in the world will we ever survive" are pretty funny.  This is the same argument with every successive generation, and while it may sell magazines and be great click-bait, we have given so much fuel to the Millennial Issue we need to understand that every new generation that hits the workplace is different and that will always be the case.  Let's see how Millennials are different and how we can handle some of our attraction and retention challenges for them specifically. 

A product of guilty parents who both worked long hours and often spent very little time with their kids, millennials are the first generation that the majority weren't forced into summer and part-time jobs while in high school.  This resulted in better life experiences through summer travel and exposure to people from other walks of life and cultures both locally and abroad.  

Another unique experience is almost all Millennials grew up in a completely digital world.  Contrary to popular thinking, Gaming bred a collaborative mindset not a competitive one.  Collaboration then bred real-time feedback responses and the desire to get frequent feedback and that translated into the working world.  

In more practical terms, Millennials entered the workforce with some crushing student loans.  They expect frequent rewards born from a lifestyle of "gamification."  They will struggle to be able to afford purchasing a house.  They see the mass job reductions and transformation to a gig economy and workforce.  

Somehow the desire for timely and frequent feedback became a bad thing in the workplace?  That's a key driver of the current revolution in performance management and it is a positive development.  We want staff who are eager to learn and to correct the aspects of work that didn't go as planned.  Haven't supervisors been dying for that for years?

As leaders, our initial ignorance to learn about Millennials and flex our approach is whose fault?  We tried for so long to apply traditional techniques thinking the receiver wasn't getting the message.  We were broadcasting the wrong signals.  It's important flexibility be applied to everyone we lead, even those in the same generation.  

And sometimes we reacted poorly when behavioral differences popped up.  While I agree it's important to inform anyone who expects a promotion on speculation instead of demonstrating capabilities in the greater role over a period of time, to laugh or worse berate someone is undoubtedly not the right way to react.

Putting aside a truckload of money to pay off student loans, there are two key drivers of interest, need and loyalty for Millennials.  

  1. Frequent Feedback in the form of raises, coaching, correction and instruction.
  2. Upward Career Mobility through learning opportunities, cross-functional work, latitude in decision making, lateral opportunities and promotions.

Other aspects of their work life that also rank as important include company values they align with, having their efforts mean something more than profits, social contributions and the ability to have work time to make them with the company, flexibility of work and schedule, and sense of belonging and ties to the company and local area.

Knowing these broad drivers is helpful.  But just as we need to customize how we supervise each staff member, we also need to customize the rewards and intangible aspects of the job for each person.  



Don't be afraid of getting a little crazy with your Employee Experience.  While this will give the greatest payback on the Millennials and Gen Z who are already entering the workplace, tailoring a meaningful experience for every employee will reap rewards for any generation.

If you're unsure where to start let HR4ALL's experience set you on the right path.  We can put together creative recruitment advertising and networking campaigns, evaluate your application and selection process to make sure you're not scaring applicants away, design the Applicant Experience to entice candidates to apply, streamline selection to maintain high applicant engagement, ensure compliance to the legal aspects of interviewing and hiring, and help you land key talent.  Then we'll work on the Employee Experience and tackle effective Onboarding, ongoing Employee Satisfaction, Growth and Learning and look at drivers of Attrition and work to solve those issues.  Together we can build a wildly exciting Employee Experience at your company and help you find, get and keep key talent.  LET THE SHARKS FLY!!!

Thirsty Thursdays are about our collective thirst for learning and knowledge.  It’s not about Beer:30 [although HR4ALL is all for that, too!]  We hope this weekly nugget of knowledge opens your mind and gives you a reason to pause and think differently.    Have a great weekend everyone! 

Please follow HR4ALL on LinkedIN and Twitter