Film's Edge by Casey Flores
by Casey Flores
May 4th, 2016

Millennial Probs

We ran a guest blog recently by one of my colleagues, Nick St. Denis. Titled “OH NO! THE CREATURES ARE COMING!” the blog explains why he thinks working with Millennials (the generation born between the early 1980s and late 90s) should not be as big of a deal as it’s been made out to be. I used to be of that faction too, but am not anymore.

Nick is not only a colleague, but a personal friend and, I believe, a very talented writer. He makes his case eloquently and positions himself as a hard-working millennial, therefore qualified to speak out on the topic. Despite all that, he is wrong on this subject—and here’s why.

Working With Millennials

First, he makes fun of the amount of articles floating around the internet regarding how Millennials are different beasts in the workplace. To be honest, as part of the generation, this annoyed me too. But after leading a discussion on this topic at USGlass magazine’s recent TEXpo event, I had a revelation. That was: Maybe the reason there are so many articles on working with Millennials is because it’s actually an issue. Who knew?

This discussion was called “Managing an Ever-Evolving Workforce,” and the conversation instantly turned to how difficult it was to work with people like me. We’re addicted to our cell phones, demand too much and produce too little. We’re also hard to attract and retain. But guess what? If you don’t need us now, you eventually will—so it’s time to figure us out.

Many of the popular business publications suggest offering more flexibility in scheduling, work environments—including working from home, etc. Nick says this idea is “ridiculous.” Is it? “I don’t expect the company to twist itself into a pretzel to accommodate me,” he writes.

I would argue that companies don’t do that because millennials expect or need that. Some are changing their staffing procedures because that’s what allows millennials to thrive in the workplace. And that extra productivity pays off.

Key Differences

“What I don’t understand is this obsession with the idea that older generations need to approach Millennials so differently,” Nick writes. Luckily, I can explain why.

A lot has changed in the workplace over the last two generations. Whereas manual labor once was the main form of employment, those jobs are becoming much scarcer. For example, 99 percent of my current job can be done without ever leaving my desk. And this is what Millennials expect, or at least all they know how to do—so the difficulty of companies to attract and retain them for more hands-on positions should come as no surprise.

It’s becoming much less common for the upcoming generations to expect to work with their hands. They all want to be like Evan Spiegel (the now 25-year-old founder of Snapchat, who’s worth $3.1 billion and a business idol of mine). It will take quite a bit more to convince the amount of Millennials still needed for manual labor—especially those worth hiring and retaining—to want to get their hands dirty.

So yes, attracting them to industry-specific jobs will be very different.

What Millennials Need

During the discussion I led, one glazing company owner said she offered everything Millennials would want—including competitive compensation, health insurance, a retirement plan with a match, etc., and was still having trouble attracting and retaining them. When I asked her if she had ever taken the time to explain the importance of those benefits to the younger folks she’d hired, she said no. Most Millennials don’t understand the value of their jobs and they need mentored.

I recently completed the Dale Carnegie Skills for Success course, in which I learned one of the things most important to employees is feedback/mentorship. This is especially true of Millennials and even more so for those just starting their careers. Explain to them why their job matters, why their benefits matter/are offered, and have a higher-up within your organization spend a little time offering feedback to them weekly—even if it’s only ten minutes. This is business 101, but it easily gets tossed by the wayside when times are busy.

For me, the single most important and motivating (and retaining) factor in all of my employment has been an understanding of how my day-to-day duties affect the company’s bottom line. I would suggest laying this out for Millennials, who are known to be fickle and expect raises and promotions quickly. When they understand how their job affects a company’s financial success, they will do things to make their position more valuable and actually earn those bonuses, raises, etc.

Let’s Hear From You

Is this really an issue? Or was that discussion with small business owners and are those hundreds of articles devoted to Millennials in the workplace just outliers? Please let us know by leaving a comment and taking our poll below:

Do you have a hard time attracting and retaining millennials?

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