I hear many employers in Connecticut voice concern about their aging workforce and their desire to attract younger employees. More often, these comments are prompted by anxiety over the eminent retirement of key employees. But I wonder if these employers appreciate the extent to which the “Net Generation” will transform the workplace. I recently read that the most desired recruiting prospects in the Millennial Generation will have five full-time jobs before the age of 27. Much of the turnover stems from dissatisfaction with today’s corporate cultures.
I use the acronym, BIND, to summarize the key adaptions that will make companies more desirable to the Millennial Generation:
Balance: Millennials feel strongly about maintaining a healthy balance between work, family, and friends. Companies will profit from understanding how to make flexible hours and work rules mesh with their business model. Employers need to make the effort to create a work environment that fosters comradery and acceptance.
Innovate: Young people today are schooled to be better at critical thinking and innovation than their parents and, especially, grandparents. Organizations are missing big opportunities if they don’t harness those skills and put them to work for the organization. It’s important for Baby Boomer Bosses to never confuse laziness with boredom. These minds need to be challenged.
Net-Centered: Whereas Baby Boomers appreciate the Internet as a great source of information, Millennials have moved beyond that to share their activity and understand how people in their network can help each other. Millennials are born collaborators and do not revere hierarchical authority like previous generations. As Millennials are network-savvy, companies need to be more proficient and mindful about the information and image they convey on the network. The image needs to be fresh and invigorating.
Development: Unlike Generation X, Millennials are very open to coaching and guidance from their “more experienced” colleagues. To survive coming talent shortages, companies will need to take a more progressive stance on career advancement. At least part of the attraction with companies like Facebook and Google is their ability to create a position around an employee’s strengths. While Millennials are great team players, companies will need to intentionally invest in developing leadership and managerial skills to replace the retiring Baby Boomers in time.
My last comment is for those employers. Retaining young talent will require managers to collect timely feedback and measure employee satisfaction. Do you do this measurement today?