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What Makes Millennials Different?

What Makes Millennials Different?

Today's workforce is drastically changing and perhaps the biggest driving force is the evolving demographics in the office. As Baby Boomers continue to retire, more and more millennials are entering the workforce and, according to a recent study by Brookings, they'll make up for 75% of the workforce by 2025. Given this group is already known as self-centred, lazy, entitled, technology-addicted, bleeding heart job hoppers, one can only expect that the traditional office culture of their parents will soon seize to exist.

Whether or not you believe this to be true and fear a world run by Gen Y, that is a problem for future managers and recruiters. Today, the focus needs to be on accepting reality, embracing change, attracting the star millennials, and adjusting your culture to nurture them, all while weeding out those who will be lazy and toxic (and exist in all generations).

The reality is if you can successfully understand millennials and adjust your workplace culture to match their values, as opposed to those of their parents, only a handful will fall into the negative category described above. For example:

  • Millennials crave flexibility and value perks such as telecommuting and flexible hours.

  • They want to know that they're making a difference. You will earn commitment and loyalty by giving them a voice within the company and communicating the positive impact your organization is having in peoples' lives.

  • The traditional corporate life is seen as evil, mostly because they watched their parents get laid off or treated terribly by bosses. Millennials respond best to management styles that are closer to a mentorship than an employee/boss relationship.

The harsh reality of Millennials is that they rarely stay in one place for more than five years. Even when you bend over backwards to please them, this generation is more likely than any other generation to remain loyal. This could be because they've seen large corporations drop their commitment to employees through layoffs and eliminating pension plans, so millennials see no reason to commit on their end. Or it could be a result of seeing the Zuckerbergs of the world make millions overnight and now they think they should be making that cash after working for four entire years.

Regardless of why millennials are like they are, they're not going anywhere. As recruiters, if targeting this age group is part of your strategy, there's no need to overhaul your culture, but simply recognize what you're already offering. Once you identify what aligns with the values of a millennial, highlight it in your job descriptions and expose them to more of it once they start working. If your culture doesn't fit with their values (and many cultures won't), there is no need to panic. Not everybody is painted with the same brush and many 20 and 30-somethings will share the values of earlier generations.