Here's our first rule about dealing with the generation gap: no more stereotyping! Each generation has its own gifts and brings unique qualities to the workplace—plus, it's always good to remember that a generation is a loosely defined group of individuals. So business leaders should keep that in mind as they model how to embrace the different perspective and talents that each employee brings.
But How Do We Target Millennials?
With all that said, there are still certain things you can keep in mind when hiring and retaining the different generations. As Millennials are poised to make up 50% of the global workforce by 2020, creating a hiring strategy that acknowledges their potential and values their goals is key for businesses looking to achieve growth. It makes good business sense not only to take this large portion of the workforce seriously, but also to acknowledge that they will be essential in attracting customers in their peer group.
TalenTrust CEO Kathleen Quinn Votaw warns employers to avoid "filtering out" too early in the hiring process. Many Millennials express themselves through tattoos, "interesting" hair styles, and unique clothing. If you assume a candidate with orange hair and a flannel shirt is just a "punk" and dismiss him from consideration, you might be missing out on a brilliant and motivated employee. (This all applies to other generational biases as well—if you're a younger hiring manager you should definitely avoid labeling anyone with white hair and unfashionable clothes as hopelessly backward and out-of-touch.)
Adequate Training is Essential
One indisputable fact is that Millennials are young and at the start of their careers. Therefore, it isn't condescending to assume that they will require a certain level of training in order to succeed in a position. Adequate training should be the goal for all new employees, though—it shows that you value them and believe that they can and will make valuable contributions to the organization.
Understand the Influence of Globalization and Technology
Globalization means that Millennials have a greater expectation of diversity and of constant connectedness. Advancements in technology and the prevalence of social media have also led Millennials to both expect and excel at communication through these channels—which can be very helpful to your business.
This level of communication and openness means that they also expect greater transparency. While much has been said in warning about job applicants keeping their online presence unobjectionable to employers, employers should realize that the same caution applies to them. Kathleen observes, "Millennials want to know everything about a company or industry before they accept a job; and they
will work for a company only as long as it is mutually beneficial. For millennials, a job is much more than punching a clock and getting a paycheck. While you are checking them out online, they are doing the same in going online to evaluate your reputation and the employment experience you offer."
So if your business has negative comments from past employees on Glassdoor or a similar site, the answer is not ignoring or disputing those comments—it is putting information out there that can give a more balanced perspective: ask current employees to write about their experiences so that potential employees will have a better sense of your actual culture.
Millennials want to find jobs that they find personally meaningful (or maybe they are just the first generation to believe that this is truly a possibility) —so highlight what your business does to give back to the community or improve your customers' lives. As Kathleen notes, "In the end it is all about all generations working together, not being stuck in silos where one generation does not talk to another. Bridge the gaps. That is how you make a great company that will last through many generations."
If your company needs help attracting and retaining Millennial employees, please contact us for more information about how we can help you solve the people puzzle™.