The impact of the millennial workforce is here. What is your company doing to prepare for the enormous wave of tech savvy, energetic, ‘ready to take on the world’ millennials?
According to the Society of Human Resource Management, millennials will comprise 50% of the workforce by 2020. That's just two years away. So, how does Frederick fare with regards to growth of its millennial population? A recent study by the Jacob France Institute sponsored by the Frederick County Office of Economic Development illustrated that the millennial population in Frederick is on upswing - and growing by leaps and bounds.
So why is this topic so divisive? In the business community, we have all heard our share of millennial bashing – like the entry level employee who expected to be promoted to VP within a month of being there. However, many companies say the negative attributes and stereotypes are more myth than reality.
Shabri Moore, President, Moore Wealth, Inc.
“Millennials in the workplace bring new energy and a fresh perspective,” shared Shabri Moore, President, Moore Wealth, Inc. With several millennials on staff, Moore shared her perspective that you can’t be an effective leader without learning from each other. Millennials are helping her to expand her business which is good for the company and her clients. Her advice for companies is to be adaptable to change. Encourage this workforce express viewpoints. Give them the courtesy of listening and learning from your personal experiences. Be a mentor and show your millennial staff a path to growth as an employee. “At a young age, our parents taught to “do as I say.” However, we raised our children a little differently, explaining things. They have been taught to ask questions, said Shabri. “We need to give this generation the courtesy of listening.”
Jon Bailey, President Wood Street, Inc:
Even the tech companies find the need cut through misperceptions and stereotypes when presenting opportunities to millennials. Jon Bailey, President of Wood Street, Inc. - a web design and marketing services firm located in the City of Frederick, thinks millennials are vastly misunderstood. Jon remarked, “We’ve recently (within the last year) hired two new staff members, a coder and a traffic manager. During this process we interviewed a lot of millennials. While there were a handful who came across as “entitled,” the majority just wanted to be part of something. I think the key to attracting millennials is to offer them a chance to make an impact where they work. That’s what they want, and I think that’s great!"
From a management perspective, millennials value job training and career development opportunities. As a company, implementing career tracks for advancement helps with attraction and retention strategies.
From the mouths of millennials:
Brothers Erik Moore, 27 and Sean Moore 30, don’t necessarily like being stereotyped at millennials.
Sean served in the military as a Green Beret for six years before he came to Frederick last fall to work with his Mom's firm. Erik was a physics major and worked at a financial services firm in Pittsburgh before landing in Frederick nearly two years ago.
Their advice to companies is to stop categorizing all millennials as the same and recognize each individual’s unique skills and talents. Don’t assume all millennials communicate the same way. For example, Sean shared that he does not have an Instagram account but does follow clients and companies on Twitter and LinkedIn. Erik said he prefers personal contact over emails or texts. Sean mentioned, “With industries constantly changing, everyone needs more flexible minds to manage the workforce of the future.”
Sometimes these perceptions can translate into business opportunities. Erik recognized the need to bridge the gap between perception and reality in the financial services industry with this "younger" generation. So, he created and launched a new program: WAVE. Despite the misconception that the younger generations prefer to do everything online, he saw the need for a more personalized touch for the Generations X, Y & Z. “While there is an online platform, clients are encouraged to speak with a real person, me! This is so important when making financial decisions that could impact your future.”
When asked what can Frederick do to get ready for this virtual millennial workforce tsunami, the consensus is, “Frederick is already cool!” However, Erik Moore added, " but it needs to become 'cooler' by expanding housing, cultural and entertainment opportunities for the millennial population.” Companies can attest that quality of life has a direct impact on being able to attract and retain workforce!
Opportunities for the future...
In polling several city businesses, the following opportunities rose to the top:
- Develop ways to transfer knowledge from experienced workers to millennials. For example, boomers can share experiences and mentor millennials AND millennials can mentor prior generations on how to leverage technology to improve operations and grow business opportunities.
- Your company absolutely needs to stay ahead of the tech curve. If you have outdated technology, you will not attract top millennial talent. Invest in technological advancements and even apps for more secure computing!
- Devise career building strategies. Identify the benchmarks to a successful career at your company. Show them a path to success!
- Create a corporate culture that exudes transparency and honesty. Building trust helps create a more productive environment for you and your employee. Collaborative communication is key!
- Make sure employees have good life/work balance. Millennials (and all staff) work hard but are also appreciative of family and fun time too!
You heard it Frederick, it’s time for new attitudes, new ideas, and new opportunities. That is a "win-win" for all generations.