second wave millennial using a mobile device

Introducing the Second-wave Millennials

Just as you were starting to figure out how to manage Millennials in the workplace, a major generational shift is underway. Coming to a workplace near you: Second-wave Millennials.

Every generation has a first wave (older cohort) and a second wave (younger cohort). Each wave has slightly different traits because they were raised by the parents of two different generations. Older Millennials are First-wavers (as of 2017, ages 25 to 35), and were raised by Baby Boomer parents. Younger Millennials, coming into the workplace now, are Second-wave Millennials (ages 13 to 24) and were raised by Generation X parents.

As an entire generation, Millennials have broad traits and behaviors that are enduring and unique regardless of the generation that raised them. But within these traits there are subtle differences based on how Boomers raised them compared to how Gen-Xers raised them. These subtleties are apparent in behavioral shifts in the workplace — and managers should take note.

These differences include Second-wave Millennials’ seeming lack of capabilities in written communications for the business world. In addition, face-to-face communication coaching may be necessary to ensure Second-wave Millennials receive adequate training and development regarding eye contact, posture, voice volume, and pace.

In addition, Second-wave Millennials may have challenges around their own ability to solve problems and think critically. Managers may need to provide training on problem-solving processes and tactics.

Lastly, Second-wave Millennials tend to have less self-awareness about their role as a team

member in a workplace setting. Navigating their way as part of a team is often perplexing to them.

Second-wave Millennials, despite these challenges in the workplace, can be developed into incredibly valuable employees. They will give their full loyalty and talent to your company if you invest in them.

CoachingMillennials has been working with a group of curriculum designers to create six training modules specifically for the Second-wave Millennials in your workplace. Our signature program is called “Developing Your Emerging Professionals: Gaining the 4 Skills Required for Workplace Success.”

The workshop covers key skills such as self-awareness, communication, collaboration, and problem-solving. Contact me directly if you’d like more information on this workshop:

warren@coachingmillennials.com, or call (703) 559-9130.

trust, communication and flexibility for Millennial employees

How to Attract Millennial Employees: No Ping Pong Table Required

It seems like the dream of most Millennials — an open, modern office with windows, lounges, ping-pong tables, a smoothie bar and nap rooms.

Thanks to images of excess from some of Silicon Valley’s tech start-ups, a lot of executives come to me worried about their office environment. Will their lack of budget (or space) for a ping pong table put them at a disadvantage when it comes to hiring the best and brightest Millennials?

I tell hiring managers that while “perks” like those offered by giants like Google and well-funded start-ups like may attract Millennials, those cool office features don’t keep Millennials fulfilled in the long run.

Hiring is a serious expense and commitment, and if you want the best Millennials to stay with your company for more than a year, there are other things you can — and should — do.

1. Trust is one of the keys to helping Millennials feel professionally valued in the workplace. Allowing Millennials to manage their own schedules, and providing work-life balance assistance through telework or flexible hours shows Millennials that they are trusted. Although new Milennial employees may need guidance and limits on telework and flex scheduling to ensure the team is supported, Millennials like working for companies that don’t chain them to desks when they can work just as productively elsewhere.

2. Communication is critical — especially with telework and flexible scheduling. Millennials appreciate feeling like they are part of a team and understanding their role in a project or event. They crave engagement and comraderie, and they want to feel that their work and role is contributing to a greater good. Open, honest and frequent communication are key to making Millennials feel engaged at work.

3. Provide professional challenges. Despite the perpetual myth that “Millennials are lazy,” they actually thrive in workplaces that offer them challenging-but- achievable goals and projects. Setting incremental deadlines and targets, and communicating how their project and role fit into the company’s mission, will help Millennials see their path forward.

4. Offer mentorships. Millennials (and all new employees) benefit from and appreciate the value that mentorships provide. Millennials particularly have long-term thoughts but short-term patience spans when it comes to career goals and growth, and mentorships can help them understand how they can get from point A to point B by staying with your company. Mentorships can also help them see what skills they need to develop to get promoted, and companies that simultaneously offer these opportunities for professional growth and development are rewarded with employee loyalty.

Overall, Millennials aren’t looking for the coolest open-concept office or best smoothies at work. They do want an open communication culture and the best opportunities for professional growth. Flexibility with work-life balance will help, too. The companies that are able to show those perks are the ones that will attract the best Millennial employees, and keep them around for the long haul.

insurance recruiting millennials

How to Maximize Millennials in Insurance

The insurance industry is boring. At least, that’s the way Millennials see it.

Research by the Insurance Institute last year revealed that “boring” was the #1 word Millennials associated with insurance. Those with experience in the industry know that is just not true, but how does the insurance industry break this misperception?  And how can agents and brokers change it?

In many ways, Millennials want from their jobs the same things as previous generations — competitive salary, good benefits and meaningful work. However, Millennials have different priorities and expectations of their workplace and require different best practices to be happy and fulfilled in their career.

Insurance agents and brokers should consider re-thinking their activities to meet these priorities and expectations. These three areas are the building blocks, will be able to attract and retain the best and brightest Millennials.

First Impressions: Digital and High Touch

The first area is getting Millennials’ attention. Doing so will take a coordinated combination of a strong digital presence and a personalized approach to recruiting. This includes a website that is clean, uncluttered, shows the insurance company’s connection to the demands of digital media and showcases the company’s mission and value proposition. As digital natives, Millennials’ first impression of a company often comes digitally. This may mean going beyond a company’s website and focusing on career-focused online presences such as Glassdoor, certain social media platforms and more, in addition to being responsive and approachable both online and off.

Workplace Environment: Teamwork and Positivity

According to the Deloitte Insurance Outlook 2017, technological innovation will be key to meeting challenges in the coming years. Fortunately, digital tools can help with the second area ­of focus — creating and promoting a company climate that is positive and team-oriented. Millennials prefer teamwork over competition and gravitate toward conscientious employers who try to make a positive difference. In addition to showcasing this company culture online as a recruitment tool, Millennials will be more loyal to companies that foster their career development, help them achieve their professional goals and publically value their contributions.

Managing Millennials: Mentoring and Coaching

Once your insurance organization has recruited and hired these top-tier Millennials, managing them on a day-to-day basis with close but nurturing supervision, mentoring and coaching. Millennials desire more hands-on interaction with and more frequent feedback from their supervisors than older generations. Good relationships are key to keeping Millennials engaged, and they are attracted to open and honest leadership that encourages input and collaboration.

To learn more about attracting, recruiting and retaining the best Millennials to your insurance company, get on the list (by providing your email address in our Newsletter sign-up box) to receive a notification when the report, Maximizing Millennials for Insurance Agents and Brokers, is released later this year from the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers (CIAB). The report will include examples from insurance companies large and small that have found success in this area and specific action items your agency or brokerage can take to engage Millennial employees.

 

pink collar jobs millennials

Pink Collar Millennials: Recruiting the Best and Brightest Millennials in Healthcare, Education and Social Services

Hourly work has changed significantly in the past two decades, with many blue-collar jobs (particularly in manufacturing and construction) declining in number. But so-called “pink collar” hourly jobs have been soaring, with employment in educational services, healthcare and social assistance increasing substantially. In fact, a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report showed four of every 10 jobs that the United States economy added in December 2016 were in healthcare or social assistance. The boom is expected to last for at least another decade.

Even with the positive job growth, pink collar industries face demographic headwinds, and hiring managers in these fields need to be ahead of the issues to attract and retain top Millennial employees. In these fast-growing industries, it can be difficult to find enough qualified, new workers to fill jobs — finding the best employees and keeping them around is even tougher.

Pink Dominance

Pink-collar jobs tend to skew heavily female, particularly in healthcare and education. The ratio of women to men in health care fields such as home health aides, medical assistance and registered nurses is 9:1, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many men feel unsuited for pink-collar work or are simply uninterested in working in a field so dominated by women, leaving hiring managers with a smaller potential workforce.

The Challenge

Hiring managers in pink-collar industries are thus facing a two-pronged challenge: Find, attract and retain the smartest and hardest-working Millennials, and overcome the stigma some men feel against these fields.
Hiring managers can take specific actions that will help overcome these challenges.

Why Are Millennials So Different?

The first step is to effectively recruit Millennials is to understand what makes them different from older generations. Unlike older generations, Millennials were raised to feel special by their parents who catered to many of their needs. They felt protected and valued, and were encouraged to believe they can achieve anything with the right mindset and support system. Collaboration and teamwork was drilled into them as youth, and this carries with them as adults. Finally, they have a strong kinship with technology—they are comfortable with it and see it as a solution-provider.

What to Emphasize When Recruiting

In recruiting messages, highlight the growth and long-term career potential in your industry. It’s not a difficult story to tell — the numbers speak for themselves in many pink-collar industries like healthcare, education, and social assistance. However, make sure you translate those raw numbers into how a job in the industry can develop into a career with opportunities for advancement, long-term professional satisfaction and work-life balance — the things beyond job security that Millennials are seeking.

Hiring managers should also emphasize how their participation in these pink-collar industries will make a positive difference on society and in their own communities. Millennials desire to be part of something bigger than themselves, so tying their work to a larger mission goes a long way in attracting Millennials.

Finally, Millennials get impatient easily, especially when dealing with outdated technology during the application process. Make sure your application process is clear, simple, and speedy. If its not, the best and brightest will see that as a sign that your company does not appreciate the value of technology that can streamline their work environment once they are there.

Final Word

The demand for pink collar jobs is growing and is likely to keep growing over the next decade. At the same time, demographic trends suggest that the supply of able-bodied workers is decreasing. Combine this with a stigma of pink collar work, and you have a challenging equation for employers. Employers that will come out on top are those that value Millennials and adjust their hiring and career advancement practices accordingly to attract the best and brightest of this generation.

How to Attract and Keep Blue-Collar Millennial Employees

Over the past two decades, the nature of hourly work in the United States has changed dramatically — with blue collar jobs making up a smaller percentage of hourly jobs and technological advancement that has yielded significant growth in productivity.

The result: A drastic decline in the demand for blue-collar workers, and a simultaneous “graying” of that workforce. As industries like construction, transportation and warehousing continue to add jobs and grow, being able to attract, train and retain Millennials will be critical to the health of those industries.

Unfortunately for the current leaders in these industries, Millennials — the very workers who in the years to come will be needed to replace outgoing blue-collar retirees — have shown little interest in blue-collar work.

For example, there is a declining percentage of 25- to 34-year-old workers in construction (6.9 percent in 2015, down from 7.9 percent in 2000). According to a 2013 Georgetown University study, 35% of 18- to 24-year-olds worked in a blue-collar job in 1980. By 2010, that share had dropped to 19 percent as the population of people that age in the United States grew.

Why is this happening? In addition to lower demand in some sectors, like manufacturing, blue-collar work has acquired a stigma that drives away Millennials, including stagnant or low wages, a lower quality of life in these careers and more. Millennials who are choosing hourly jobs are often seeking out those that do not necessarily require continuing education or apprenticeship-like training, such as jobs in sales.

How can managers in these blue-collar fields ensure they’re sending positive messages to potential Millennial employees?

Millennials grew up with specific, unique traits that seem to be remarkably inclusive and cut across demographic categories like race, gender and social class. These include being raised to feel special and central to their parents’ lives, feeling protected, believing they can do anything, being team-oriented, and feeling pressured to succeed and achieve.

For hiring managers, this means there are specific, actionable strategies they can use to attract and retain Millennials in their industry. They include:

  • Making Millennials feel like an important part of the team right away by helping them understand how their roles and responsibilities have a positive effect on those around them.
  • Providing counseling and support on life basics such as preparing taxes and saving for retirement, in addition to giving training on “soft skills” so they behave properly in the workplace.
  • Cultivating an upbeat environment and plenty of positive (and frequent) reinforcement that they’re on the right track toward achieving their goals.
  • Equipping Millennials with ways to obtain additional training to advance in their careers.
  • Emphasizing teamwork over individual competition in the workplace.
  • Defining and putting context around how the job they are doing makes a positive difference in the world around them.

In addition, hiring managers must make dedicated efforts in the hiring process to highlight the long-term career potential and growth in these fields. Counter negative assumptions and stereotypes with success stories and early, positive associations. For example, RV manufacturer Thor Industries offers tours to eighth graders and their parents, and also has a presence in schools that lets both audiences know about the well-paid, stable work environment the company provides. The marketing campaign Go Build Alabama, that highlighted above-average earning potential for skilled laborers and emphasized construction as an accessible field to people without college degrees, helped boost applications to apprenticeship programs in the state by 73 percent. Other states have started replicating the program.

Hiring managers should also promote teamwork and leverage Millennials’ team-oriented attitudes. This means recruiting friend groups and creating immersive, multi-day orientation programs that allow time for new hires to bond with their new co-workers. Allow connections during the workday through social media, text messaging and more without assuming these tools are hurting productivity — they can be incorporated into the ways Millennials are used to working.

On an individual level, Millennials appreciate having clear goals and frequent feedback as they work toward those goals. Millennials want tight cycles of feedback (not just a one-per-year performance review) because they have an innate desire to succeed and please those above them.

Managers and executives should also leave the door open for new hires to contribute their ideas. In industries where there may not be much room for this type of input, make it clear how the work Millennials are doing is integral to the team’s mission. Don’t be shy about expressing appreciation for both their work and their ideas. In addition, emphasize how the work their doing helps the larger world or offer volunteer opportunities to increase professional engagement and fulfillment.

While hiring managers of hourly workers in blue-collar industries say the jobs they offer can offer a steppingstone to a fruitful career, it is up to those same hiring managers to convince young job-seekers of this. That requires a new approach to hiring and coaching Millennials.

 

job interview files

Hiring Millennials: 5 Questions to Ask a Millennial Job Candidate, and the Answers that May Surprise You

Millennials place different priorities on what they are looking for in a job. And its not always the priorities you would think.

They place a high value on professional development opportunities; they want to work for companies with values aligned with their own; they like to be trusted that the work will still get done, despite the flexible scheduling opportunities; and, they appreciate transparency, authenticity, and open-door policies in regards to communications and frequent feedback.

With these Millennial expectations and professional desires, it’s imperative that hiring managers ask the right questions to ensure the best fit for both the new Millennial employee and the company, and listen carefully for the answer they might not expect.

The following are some questions hiring managers should consider asking Millennials who are applying for jobs, and the answers they’re likely to get.

Questions to Ask a Potential Millennial Employee

  1. What are your biggest motivators?

Millennials are motivated by more than salary.

While making enough to live comfortably, pay off student loans and save for a home and retirement is important, Millennials are also motivated by the opportunity to grow professionally. They seek out employers who offer well-defined challenges and guidance on meeting their goals. They appreciate mentorship programs and developing meaningful professional relationships. Plus, they are attracted to employers who make they feel like they’re part of something bigger and help them understand how they’re contributing to the greater good in the world.

  1. Describe your ideal work environment.

Millennials may surprise you here. While the stereotype leans toward no dress code, ping-pong tables, free smoothies and lattes and the like, Millennials don’t need those things to be happy. For many Millennials, an ideal work environment goes back to the value they place on teamwork, open-door policies, and transparency and honesty from higher-ups.

  1. What do you value in a job?

The best Millennial employees will tell you they want the things they value — again, teamwork, achievable and well-defined goals, structure and frequent feedback. All of those things loop back to professional development, which Millennials say is a key component in whether they stay with a company or leave.

  1. How do you like to receive feedback?

The stereotype about Millennials is that they are digital addicts who shun in-person communication. But it’s not true. Studies have repeatedly shown that Millennials appreciate in-person communication and want up-front honesty from their colleagues and bosses. A Fortune/IBM study revealed that Millennials prefer face-to-face interaction and in-person coaching and mentoring when they are learning a new skill.

A common answer from a Millennial to this question might be “Frequently.” Companies that rate highly at attracting and keeping top Millennial talent are doing away with the traditional annual review and building feedback cycles into the workflow. (An MTV Millennials in the Workplace survey showed 80 percent of respondents said they liked to receive “real-time feedback” more than getting “more traditional” (often annual or semi-annual) performance reviews. From frequent testing in school to extracurricular activities, Millennials have grown accustomed to knowing how they’re doing at any given point and don’t like the uncertain feeling that comes from waiting for feedback.

  1. What types of things do you want in a boss?

This is a key question. Millennials were raised by a community of parents, coaches, teachers and neighbors — who believed in them, cheered them on, gave them participation trophies and sometimes acted more like friends than authority figures. Millennials may expect a similar relationship with their bosses — friendly, approachable and caring. Millennials want their bosses to look out for their best interest they way their parents did.

Understanding what Millennials want from their professional relationship with their boss — and knowing how likely the boss is to meet that expectation — can go a long way toward ensuring a mutually good fit in the workplace.

 

 

Busting Myths: Millennials have No Loyalty in the Workplace

If you hire a Millennial, you can’t expect them to stay around long. At least, that’s what most employers think when they hire people who are in the early years of their career.

But it turns out that Millennials do not “job hop” any more than young people of previous generations. To the extent that they do “hop”, it is more about the younger employees’ search for their professional strengths, interests, and career paths, according to a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If you want your best Millennial employees to stick around, you need to understand that for Millennials, loyalty is a two-way street. If an employer is not investing in Millennials’ professional development and satisfaction, there’s a good chance they’ll say, “Adios, amigos.”

According to a survey done by Deloitte earlier this year, 44 percent of Millennials say, if given the choice, they would like to leave their current employers in the next two years — particularly if “there is a perceived lack of leadership-skill development.” More than six in 10 Millennials (63 percent) say their “leadership skills are not being fully developed” at work.

Other reasons for lack of loyalty in the workplace for Millennials are “feelings of being overlooked, compounded by larger issues around work/life balance, the desire for flexibility, and a conflict of values.”

How to Ensure Millennial Employee Loyalty

Fortunately as an employer, you can do things to ensure Millennial loyalty.

Companies should capitalize on aligning company values to the personal values of their top Millennial employees. More than 80 percent of Millennials who plan to stay with their company for at least another 5 years believe their personal values are shared by the organizations they work for, according to Deloitte. This is a strong indication that Millennials choose to work for and stay with employers whose values reflect their own.

Millennials would prioritize the sense of purpose around people rather than growth or profit maximization. This is one of the reasons that the three top fields for Millennials are education, environment and healthcare, research shows.

In broad terms, Millennials’ personal goals are more traditional. They seek a good work/life balance, they want to own their own homes, and they strive for financial security that allows them to save enough money for a comfortable retirement. The ambition to make positive contributions to their organizations’ success and/or to the world in general also rate highly. As an employer, assisting Millennial employees in reaching some of these goals can help engender loyalty.

The companies that are successfully keeping turnover down and instilling a long-lasting sense of loyalty in their Millennial employees seem to have common themes:

  • Identifying, understanding, and aligning with Millennials’ values
  • Supporting Millennials’ ambitions and professional development
  • Having a mentor

The Deloitte survey shows that loyalty to an employer is driven by understanding and support of Millennials’ career and life ambitions, as well as providing opportunities to progress and become leaders. Having a mentor is incredibly powerful in this regard. Those intending to stay with their organization for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68 percent) than not (32 percent).

Like all generations, pay and financial benefits drive Millennials’ choice of organization more than anything else.

“But when salary or other financial benefits are removed from the equation, work/life balance and opportunities to progress or take on leadership roles stand out. Those factors are followed by flexible working arrangements, deriving a sense of meaning, and training programs that support professional development. An employer that can offer these is likely to be more successful than its rivals in securing the talents of the Millennial generation.”

Every incoming generation changes the shape of a workplace. Boomers brought long-hours and an almost devotional approach to work. GenXers brought work-life balance. Now Millennials are making their own footprint — a flexible, purpose-driven workplace that has lots of professional development opportunities.

 

4 More Millennial Traits

Last week, we wrote about how Millennials were raised by their parents to feel special, sheltered and confident. Those three Millennial traits mark that generation’s personality, shaped by their parents and the prevailing cultural influences of the times.

But there are four more traits of Millennials worth paying attention to: Team-oriented, Conventional, Achieving and Pressured.

Team-Oriented

There’s a reason why group fitness classes are more popular than ever before: Millennials are the most team sports-oriented generation in history, thanks to the rise of organized sports and parents who focused on group participation activities for their Millennial children. This started early for Millennials, in schools that emphasized group projects and team collaboration.

This team focused orientation set the stage for Millennials’ preference and expectation of working in teams in the workplace. It also sets the stage for managers to play more of a coaching role. The managers who want to attract and retain the best Millennial employees should consider taking on a “coach” role. This means:

  • Building relationships is important, as Millennial employees want to feel like they belong to a team working toward a larger goal or the “greater good” in their career.
  • Cross-generational mentorship is appreciated by Millennials, who want to feel connected to people in other departments, be coached by people with more experience and want to feel part of a community.
  • Embracing open communication and frequent feedback will make Millennials feel welcome and like an important part of the workplace team.

Conventional

It is counter-intuitive to think that “youth” and “conventional” go together. The Baby Boomers led the way in their youth to be unconventional, anti-establishment, and counter-cultural. GenXers followed the Boomers lead by being non-conforming, but in a different, more rule-avoidance way. Millennials, on the other hand, are a truly conventional generation in may respects.

Gallup research revealed, “In addition to finding steady, engaging jobs, millennials want to have high levels of well-being, which means more than being physically fit. Yes, millennials want to be healthy, but they also want a purposeful life, active community and social ties, and financial stability.”

Millennials are waiting longer than their parents and grandparents to get married, have children and buy homes, but not because they don’t want to follow the conventional path of owning a home and raising a family. Millennials are delaying those things due to economic circumstances, i.e.–student loans and tenuous employment situations.

For employers, this means providing Millennials with predictable, stable opportunities to grow their skill set, and a clear career path. Millennials don’t like to “wing it”. They would rather have a plan that extends well into their future and know what to expect for their long-term development. Make sure you provide plenty of opportunity to explain benefits like health insurance, 401ks, and other benefits. Research has shown that Millennials tend be the most conservative when it comes to investing their money. They save at a higher rate than other generations, and are less likely to have their money in the equity market.

Achieving

Millennials want to achieve. Contrary to the common media narrative, they are an ambitious generation that wants to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others. As previously noted, Millennials’ parents were more involved and more positive in many ways when it came to how they were raised. Parents had high expectations for their Millennial children, that they can achieve anything they put their minds to and the sky is the limit

This was reinforced as they became older with historical markers that would have been improbable in the past, such as the first black president, the first female Presidential nominee of a major party ticket, and a wildly successful Millennial entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg who transformed the way all generations communicate.

Another indication for this ethic of high achievement is their education level. “Millennials are on track to be the most-educated generation in history,” according to the Pew Research Center. In 2015, about 27 percent of Millennial women had a bachelor’s degree or higher by age 33, and 21 percent of men did. Those are higher percentages than Generation X, the Baby Boomers or the Silent generation by age 33.

So, how does an employer manage an achieving generation? First, never dumb down your message for Millennials. It is condescending and they will see right through it. Set high standards in performance in the work that they do. Be clear about benchmarks and reward them at each step of the process, not just upon completion of a goal. Remember—Millennials grew up in a 24/7 news cycle, texting and IMing. Speed and frequency is important.

Pressured

A lot of that high-achieving attitude Millennials have comes from the pressure they feel to achieve. A survey conducted by Inc.com revealed 67 percent of millennials said they felt “extreme” pressure to succeed, compared to 40 percent of Gen-Xers and 23 percent of Boomers.

In addition to having highly-involved parents and frequent “measurement” of their progress in school, Millennials feel pressured to succeed at a younger and younger age. “In a strange way, the fact that most millennials’ parents raised them thinking ‘the sky is the limit’ and ‘you can do anything you believe you can,’ then when they don’t immediately find success, they feel bad about themselves, and pressure to ramp it up,” wrote Dr. Rose Kumar.

In the workplace, this means recognizing the stress that they are feeling. A stable salary and clear expectations of their role goes a long way to reducing this stress, and can really improve performance, but smart companies are taking it up a notch. Wellness workplaces, programs that encourage physical exercise, a balanced diet, meditation, and a healthy social network are all part of a growing trend in the workplace that all generations can benefit from.

One common theme that runs through all four of these traits is the need for employers to set clear expectations. Research performed by Gallup found that one of the strongest correlations to workplace performance was an employees ability to understand what is expected of them.

Employers shouldn’t “wing it” when it comes to attracting and managing Millennials. Have a plan. Be clear. Think long-term.

Millennials Leading the Way to a Gig Economy

More than one-third of Millennials don’t have a “traditional,” full-time, 9-to-5 job with benefits. Instead, this generation is leading the rise of the “gig economy”. In this new post-recession environment, Millennials are trying to make ends meet and build a career through a variety of freelance and part-time contract jobs.

The term “gig economy” was first coined in reference to the days of 1920s jazz music, where musicians hopped from gig to gig, backing up singers and bands whenever they could to afford to keep playing music and stay on the road traveling. Today, it’s not just musicians performing gigs.

Why Gig?

Three main factors have pushed Millennials toward the gig economy: The economic/political climate, technology, and lifestyle preferences.

On the economic side, it’s all about the continued lack of job growth for Millennials. In the fourth quarter of 2015, Baby Boomers and older Gen-Xers were the ones that added the most jobs (around 378,000), while Millennials and younger Gen-Xers’ jobs shrunk by at least 35,000. Millennials were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. To add insult to injury, many Baby Boomers are delaying retirement, which contributes to fewer jobs available for Millennials.

The Great Recession in the early 2000s occurred just as many Millennials were attempting to enter the workforce, which meant dismal job prospects and the delayed launch of Millennials’ careers. “The result has been a sizable population with no choice but to turn to whatever ‘gig’ comes their way in order to make ends meet,” according to a 2015 Fischer Phillips/Pew Research Center report.

A tiny bright-spot for Millennials was the passage of the Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010. This allowed Millennials to stay on their parents’ health plans till age 26. Sure, this is nice, but most Millennials would rather have a full time job and their own insurance, thank you very much.

Technology has also played a role in elevating the gig economy. Mobile connections and wifi have untethered workers from their desks, while social media and project management systems like Slack and Asana, online time tracking and remote desktops have made it easier to stay connected from afar. Combined with the growth of relatively new job markets like Upwork and Contently, which cater to freelancers and contract workers, it’s easier than even for Millennials to find remote work and be productive from anywhere. Millennials are quick adopters of new technology and are used to working from non-traditional offices and working on their own schedule.

Finally, for some Millennials, the lifestyle that a gig provides fits a type of lifestyle preference. Millennials famously value flexibility in their schedule and work environment — two things that gig economy jobs can provide. According to Millennials, the perks of being a full-time freelancer or relying on a series of contract jobs include freedom and independence that they believe a more traditional job may not provide, gaining a wide diversity of experience, having more chances to learn new skills on the job.

Why Not Gig

Despite the short-term benefits that a gig-job provides, most Millennials, given a choice, would rather have a full-time job with a salary, benefits, and an employer that invests in their personal and professional development. In fact, Millennials are more likely to prefer one employer that provides these benefits than start over every time with a new employer or gig. But for now, out of necessity, many Millennials are embracing the gig.

 

Busting Myths about Millennials: Job Hopping

The ongoing narrative is that Millennials are serial job-hoppers—ungrateful and unloyal. “Why bother hiring them,” managers say, “if they only stay 6 months?”

But new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests this narrative is just not true. It turns out that Millennials are no more likely to “hop” than previous generations when they were young.

The BLS study shows that the average job tenure for 20-somethings (many current Millennials) is the same today as it was in the 1980s, when the oldest members of Generation X were in their 20s, and that how long a young employee stays in a job is more a factor of youth than of generation.

An older study by BLS also revealed job-hopping is largely due to younger employees’ search for their professional strengths, interests and best career path. “Of course, there is significant job movement among young workers, both in terms of employers and types of work. Still, once they settle into a career path, employees become considerably more stable in terms of their work than is generally thought,” according to the study.

The same is true today. Overall, job-hopping tends to stabilize more after age 28 for the majority of workers—and job-hopping seems to happen less for those with higher levels of education, according to BLS data from 2016.

But consider this: For young professionals, job-hopping may have benefits. Trying different jobs at various companies can help them grow professionally, learn about themselves and attain new skills quickly. Further, studies show they may make more money moving from company to company than staying with one company long term: A job change can yield a 10 percent or more increase in salary, whereas the average annual raise is just 3 – 4.5 percent.

What Managers Can Do to Keep the Best Millennial Employees

Staying with one company for an entire professional career is not a “thing” now like it was for previous generations. It just doesn’t happen.

As a manager, it’s important to recognize that Millennials have no qualms about staying with a company long-term — they would just rather do so for a company that values their growth and development the way their parents did as these Millennials grew up.

To do this, managers should show a genuine interest in their younger employees’ career development and long-term goals.

In addition, cross-generational mentoring programs can keep Millennial’s engaged and provide a unique chance to learn more about career development at your company and envision themselves at that company well into the future.

Millennials are most interested in working for companies that help them see the “greater good” in what they do on a day-to-day basis. Managers who make it clear that the work the company does make a difference in people’s lives and makes the world a better place are more likely to have happy employees and lower turnover. Offering volunteer opportunities and community-oriented professional development is also key to keeping these valuable employees around.

Lastly, be transparent and be authentic. Millennials crave honesty and follow-through from their professional leadership on the health and well-being of the company, and the company’s mission, vision and goals. Fostering a culture of openness can help prevent Millennials from getting nervous and looking for new jobs based on false or incomplete information, as they fear layoffs just like their parents did.

Seven years after the great recession, the economy is still in recovery and morphing to a new economic paradigm called the “gig economy”, where Uber driver jobs might be plentiful, but meaningful work with benefits is scarce. If you are an employer that has meaningful work, can provide a growth and development plan, and an openness to skills that young professionals can bring, you have a good shot at stopping the hopping.

workaholics

5 Ways to Get Millennials to Want to Work for You

Ping pong tables, latte machines, free kale smoothies, a nap room — sounds like a paradise workplace for Millennials, right? Maybe — but maybe not.

It turns out that “perks” like this do not make young professionals feel fulfilled at work for the long term.

The first Millennials were graduating college and entering the workforce just a few years after the dot-com bubble burst. Even after that economic collapse, however, many companies were trying to attract young, tech-savvy employees with Silicon Valley-style perks from free food to activities designed to make work “fun”. But these things aren’t what Millennial employees really want at work.

1. Millennials want to work for organizations that offer ways for them to feel engaged and emotionally connected to their jobs, according to research from Gallup. They want to feel good about the impact their role has on their workplace and on the community.

Managers can do this by talking more about why the company’s mission is meaningful to the community and the world at large, and by communicating how the employee fits into that mission. Volunteer opportunities can also make employees feel more connected and engaged at work. (See “3 Ways Millennials are Changing the Workplace” for more on this.)

2. Millennials want to work for companies that have an open and honest communication culture, including frequent check-ins, constructive feedback, defined responsibilities and goals that are achievable with proper support.

Managers can do this by focusing on being authentic, approachable coaches, being a role model and setting up Millennials with a structured and productive mentoring program.

3. Millennials want to work for companies that offer them professional challenges, opportunities for growth and show an interest in their short- and long-term success.

Managers can do this by talking about long-term goals, career path and development and future opportunities. “They want to get on the perfect career track right away, despite their job-hopping reputation, data show that most would prefer to stay with one company that will help them achieve their professional goals,” according to Neil Howe.

4. Millennials will be attracted to companies that integrate their work and their life. This does not mean they want to work 80 hours per week. They don’t want work to become their life, but they do like working hard and taking on professional challenges.

The way they do this is different than previous generations. For Millennials, being chained to a desk can be frustrating, and many Millennials want the flexibility to work outside the standard 9-to-5 schedule. “When Millennials say they want ‘balance,’ they don’t mean work less. They mean work differently and more flexibly. There’s a big difference,” mentioned Cali Williams Yost in a piece for Fast Company.

Managers can do this by allowing some telecommuting and alternative work schedules, while keeping expectations high and communication frequent.

5. Millennials will want to work for companies that offer stability and job security. The oldest members of the Millennial generation were just starting to look for their first full-time jobs when the Great Recession happened and they witnessed (and experienced) high unemployment rates.

Managers should emphasize the long-term prospects of the company’s success and the sustainability of their business model. Millennials have long-term horizons when thinking about their career goals. They would rather have a meaningful career with a sold, stable company, rather than hop from job to job. In fact, the idea that Millennial employees “job hop” more than previous generations is a myth. To the extent that they do job hop, it’s because they are working to gain skills to advance themselves in their career. You don’t want to be that company where they are gaining skills so they can move on to the next company. Managers should be clear that their company provides opportunities for professional growth and development.

Overall, Millennials are looking for good coaches in the workplace who are honest, say one thing and do that thing (not do another); they want CEOs who admit mistakes and are open about the company’s health; they want to understand their role with a company that is making a positive difference in the community and in the world.

The way to attract and keep the best Millennial employees is not with free food.

 

Millennials in the Workplace: Meeting Them Where They Are

Understanding any generation — and working with them effectively and productively — means knowing how they were raised. It is important to “put yourself in someone else’s shoes,” and consider Millennials’ upbringing, how they have been raised and what they value.

In leadership, you cannot fully utilize an individual team member’s strengths unless you really know them and know where they’re coming from. To develop Millennials professionally, it helps as a manager to communicate the way that they understand, taking into account their perspective.

There are certain hot buttons that can spur a Millennial to higher levels of engagement and activity.

  • Members of the Millennial generation were raised to feel special by parents who engaged with them, made them feel wanted and important, and were actively involved in their lives. For employers, that means a more hands-on, self-affirming approach to management that visibly and positively rewards them for accomplishing their goals. Here is where a coaching model to managing really works. (And no, you don’t need to buy a box of trophies. A simple gift card to Starbucks for a job well done works just as well.)
  • Millennials were raised with teamwork, collaboration and community-mindedness. They played team sports, worked on group projects in school and volunteer work was a routine part of their education.
  • They grew up with rapidly developing technology and are comfortable communicating in new ways, across management levels and in an open and honest manner.

Employers should meet Millennials where they are. Here are three ways employers can to do that to encourage professional growth and commitment:

  1. First impressions are everything. For example, you’ll never get their attention if your website is cluttered, difficult to navigate and uses outdated technology. The message that sends to Millennials is that your company isn’t forward-thinking and technologically savvy. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly, clean and has up-to-date content, in addition to addressing why the company’s mission matters and what the company does for its community and to better the world.By doing that, you’ll actually attract other generations, too! A great example is wsandco.com, the website of Woodruff Sawyer & Company, an independent insurance company whose website is both well-designed and speaks to the company’s role in the community and world.
  2. Personalize outreach with high-tech and high-touch elements. Give Millennial candidates the chance to speak to both top executives and newly-hired employees.Millennials are keen on transparency and on open and honest communication across professional levels. Millennials are used to being able to reach colleagues and higher-ups through multiple, convenient channels and want to work for CEOs who follow through on promises.
  3. During the recruitment process, give Millennials a chance to speak with not just with human resources staff and their direct potential manager, but with recently hired employees and top executives, too. Recruiters should maintain frequent communication with Millennial applicants, too, without sacrificing formal niceties.

In the onboarding process, schedule immersive orientations in order to build a network of trust among their new peers and foster a sense of community. Welcome Millennials like it’s a privilege to work with them.

A just-released white paper from Coaching Millennials goes over six simple strategies every employer can use to attract, manage, and retain the best Millennial talent. Along with meeting them where they are, the white paper discusses coaching millennials with feedback, creating a positive environment and more. Download the white paper (free) here.


white-paper-frontt

Download the free white paper here from Coaching Millennials.
Download Guide