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Jun 01 2016
Want Your Company to Succeed? Invest in Millennials!
DeAnna Leahy, CCE, Sunroc Corporation

The millennial generation is now the nation's largest living population group. The millennials where born between approximately 1980 and 2000 and are also known as generation Y. Millennials will make up 50 percent of the workforce by 2020 and 75 percent of the workforce by 2030. Nearly 60 percent of millennials have already switched careers at least once, and most say they're not likely to stay with their current employers to retirement. They have very different talents and needs than previous generations.

Millennials are adaptable, entrepreneurial, team-oriented, and extremely creative. They are looking for employers that will embrace these characteristics rather than suppress them behind a desk or in a cubical. Millennials have skills that prior generations do not have. They are tremendously tech savvy and are inclined to get more accomplished in an average workday. They use technology and resources to multitask and to be more efficient and effective. They are quick learners, which makes them ideal in a growing market that is moving at a faster rate than ever before. 

So what are millennials looking for in a job? This generation prioritizes meaningful work over pay, and 65 percent of them said personal development is the most important factor in looking for employment. Millennials are invested in companies that are invested in them. Which means that employees are having to shift their thinking to realize that millennials do not work for them, but rather with them. Millennials tend to be confident and collaborative, yet want flexible work schedules and consistent feedback from managers. In general, they are very social and have strong opinions, and are driven by a sense of community both at work and beyond. 


As an employer, it is important to help millennials feel both valued and financially secure. Employers need to proactively build programs designed for millennials that make them happier at work and, in turn, more likely to stay with your company. Mentoring programs go a long way toward millennials gaining trust in your organization. On the flip-side, reverse mentorships allow millennials to feel valued by instructing the more mature workers on current technology, navigating the web, and how to access information online. 

Often times Millennials are perceived as being entitled, and the common belief is that this sense of entitlement makes them whiney, lazy, or incompetent when it comes to getting the job done. However, that perception of entitlement, when combined with a sense of engagement, can make millennial workers more likely to exhibit leadership qualities and contribute to improving their teams. Loyal, entitled employees often show higher levels of leadership behaviors such as, making improvements that benefit the entire team or company, or by finding more efficient ways to get things done. There is a difference between "earned" entitlement and "unearned" entitlement. Earned entitlement is not necessarily a bad thing. If they do a good job, they will receive the praise, incentives, and compensation that they expect. This motivates them to perform well.

Make your millennial employee an integral part of your company and they are likely to respond in kind. Provide them with leadership opportunities within your organization. Allow a platform for sharing their knowledge. Let them stretch their creativity and be involved in developing their own initiatives, projects and goals. This will make your millennials more engaged and more satisfied. Companies can foster innovative corporate cultures, which can efficiently identify and unlock the talents in their increasingly millennial workforce. The millennial generation will become the leaders of tomorrow, so we need to make room for them in the workplace today. Companies and millennials that invest in each other will make a difference in their organizations, communities, and the world.