In 2012, The Journal of Leadership, Accountability and Ethics (vol. 9(6) 2012) published an article about the working habits of Millennials. Three points stand out:
- “Many of this generation’s parents are affluent middle-agers who are now confronted with progenies who are drawn to the “softer” side of life: art, poetry, music, and the surreal world of games.”
- “While many of them excelled in high school and college, they don’t seem attracted to the current structured world of work out there.”
- “Many of them seem to explore their options, waiting for the right moment or opportunity to come along, and not in a hurry to proactively chase it.”
So, if you are building a company and hiring the younger generation of workers, how do you appeal to their sensibilities?
First, don’t focus on the traditional benefits that come with employment. Health insurance, stable income, and a promise of advancement mean very little to these 20-somethings. They’ve grown up in a world where Fortune 500 companies lay off thousands of people and Federal employees are sent home during systematic shut-downs. To them, no job is secure. Health insurance is available outside of the workplace. And there are endless freelance jobs to earn money from a living room couch or local coffee shop.
Second, don’t mention the 9-5 hours. In fact, you might completely rethink those hours anyway. Why? These Millennials, heavy with tech skills, will happily walk away from your company if you press them to work a traditional workday. They will work hard; but on their time. And if you don’t like it, find someone else. (And good luck with that.)
Finally, don’t expect them to work forever. You might spend endless hours seeking the right candidate, vetting all applicants, and providing company training only to find your Millennial opts to spend winter in Switzerland skiing. You spent three months hiring and only got two months of work out of your new tech employee.
It’s time to rethink some of the traditional constraints of employment. In fact, something as inconvenient as a long commute could dissuade your Millennial from staying at the job. Remote working (from home or an approved coworking space) could go a long way in keeping a good employee from disappearing at the first hint of snow. Or sun.
Millennials have been raised well, by overly protective parents. They don’t approach the world of work with much apprehension or fear. They are a confident bunch without much to lose. And the companies that learn how to adapt to their standards might find a competitive edge for future growth in all markets.