The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

Millennials: My Favorite Employees

If you’ve heard me speak or worked with me on a project, you know that I am passionate about the value that the millennial workforce brings to our economy. In my past practice, I hired exclusively millennials, for a number of reasons. They had passion, energy and drive – and they could help me with all my technology!

A recent article spoke to millennials about overcoming the stereotypes in the workforce about their generation. It seems a great launching pad for me to share my thoughts on what I hear on a regular basis.

  1. They’re Entitled – What they do know is that there are things that they want, whether possessions, titles, a great apartment, and a big bank account. It’s easy to see what you can have in today’s world, and they are used to things moving very quickly. What I find to be the case more often is that they just want to know HOW to get where they want to go – and then they’re happy to follow that path. When you come from a world that when you see something you want, you just go to amazon on your phone and it’s at your doorstep the next day, you are going to have different expectations about speed. This isn’t bad, but it would be helpful to have meaningful milestones along the way.
  2. They want a trophy for showing up — Yes it’s true – they grew up in the generation of everyone getting a trophy. But I fail to see how this is new in the workplace. Don’t all your employees expect an annual increase just because they weren’t fired this year? And we as leaders have bought into it. We continue to give employees 3% raises because it’s the average, and we figure it’s easier then trying to replace the employee. The good ones know that if they want a better then average raise they better be doing a better then average job! Let them know what you expect and what the trophy will look like, and they will do what they need to so they get to the finish line.
  3. They are easily sidetracked by technology — Use it and embrace it! This is my favorite part of millennials. I was running a meeting a few years ago, and we were discussing whether or not a particular state had been enacted on minimum wage law. I asked my #2 person to research it and report back to the group next week. The newest team member at our table raised her hand, and said she had just found it on her phone and the answer was that yes, it had passed. She then emailed the article to the whole team from her phone. They aren’t using technology to waste time – they are using it to be more accurate and productive for your organization.
  4. They’re job hoppers – And what choice have we given them? It seems to be the only way they can get promoted and increase their salary. If your organization is giving 3% raises, know that according to the Wharton school the average external hire is able to increase their salary 18 – 20%. Create a valuable a career path, and increase salaries to the market rate for a promotion and you’ll find they are very dedicated and loyal team members. Remember those trophies… They prefer to be part of a team, so make it enticing for them to stay.
  5. They want special privileges – I don’t see where they want anything special, but they are more willing to speak their mind and be sure you understand what they are looking for. Also, they want to understand why something can’t be done. For example, if they have a need to work remotely for a day, and there is work they can accomplish, why not? If it’s that you don’t trust them to get the work done, that’s another conversation. Use the openness and special requests as a way to motivate and reward. You may find that pay isn’t as important to them as flexible hours, working remotely, casual dress and other benefits that are easy for an organization to offer.

Overall its important that we all remember by 2020 millennials will make up 50% of the workforce. In my first book, Fire HR Now, I talk about how executives in the 60’s couldn’t imaging how the hippie generation would ever show up to work and conform with policies and procedures. Today we can’t get those same employees to leave the workforce!

Millennials bring amazing skills and competencies to the organizational environment that should be embraced. If you can find a team like the six I worked with for our eight years together I can promise you will be rewarded to have worked with such talented and dedicated professionals.