Everybody has an opinion on Millennials because everybody knows one — maybe it’s your child, your employee, or even your boss.
We’re sick of hearing about how to manage Millennials in the workforce because the conversation around them is mostly hype. When you have consultants that sell classes on how to work with Millennials, the media cherry-picking facts about Generation Y, and the self-critical nature of Millennials themselves — it creates the perfect storm of hype.
So, let’s cut the hype and tell you what you need to know.
Millennials will represent 75% of the working population by 2025.
That said, let’s divide this article into three sections:
- What you get by hiring Millennials
- How to attract them
- How to retain them
Note: This article generalizes Millennials. Gen Y (loosely considered to be humans born between 1982-2004) is a U.S. population of more than 83 million people, each one an individual. This article generalizes Millennials for the purpose of examining their impact in the workforce and discussing practices for attracting and retaining them; it is not meant to wrongly label any one person.
What You Get When You Hire Millennials
There are two common judgments on Millennials:
- Entitled, easily distracted, impatient, self-absorbed, lazy, and unlikely to stay in any job for long
- Searching for purpose, feedback, and personal life balance in their work
Could they both be accurate? Depends on how you look at it. Either way, here’s a closer look at how Millennials approach work.
A Quick Start
Millennials want to hit the ground running when they start a new job. The want tools and information so that they can figure it out themselves, and they aren’t inclined toward long training programs or direct managers who explain every detail of the day-to-day.
It’s not because they think they’re better; it’s not because they think they know it all; and it’s not because they’re lazy—it’s because they’re used to getting information quickly.
This is largely a product of technology. Instead of asking their parents or going to the library to read an encyclopedia, they’re used to accessing a complete answer to their question within the day, or more likely, within the hour. You can look at that as impatience, or you can look at that as initiative.
Give them tools that are intuitive, resources to train themselves on how to use those tools, or access to a person who can answer questions on-demand, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly they catch on.
Customer Service in the Age of Connectivity
Modern freight brokerage can be a bit like a boiler room — opportunities arise and evaporate quickly. Companies who act fast reap the benefits. They need people who are going to work extremely hard and are accustomed to customer support demands that didn’t exist ten years ago.
Millennials may desire flexible work hours and location, but they’re also ready to answer the phone at 10PM and solve a problem. As demand for sophisticated last-mile services increases, you need people at the helm who are able to respond appropriately.
How to Attract Millennials to Your Company
It’s not about ping pong tables or catered lunches, and it’s not as complicated as you might think. In order of importance, here’s what Millennials are attracted to in an employer:
- Training and development
- Flexible working hours
- Cash bonuses
Cash bonuses speak for themselves, and we’ll cover training and development in just a minute, so let’s look at flexible working hours.
People desire flexible working hours for various reasons, and this certainly isn’t true only for Millennials. However, when you’re running a multi-million dollar logistics company, it might be hard to grasp that work is getting done even though the office is empty. And the 8AM sales meeting held every Monday—is work actually done during that hour? How much payroll is being wasted on one person going over numbers every one in the meeting reviewed the night before?
Productivity in the connected age is less about arbitrary rules (like the 9-5 workday) and more about trust. Trust that quality work is accomplished without a physical presence. Collaboration tools help companies build trust. A communication tool like Slack can keep people connected with as little friction as possible, and a logistics app like Lanetix can add transparency.
For example, the Lanetix Bid and Tender Management keeps all of the work visible — nothing is hidden in a silo. You can see who’s done what, who you’re waiting for, what you’re waiting on, etc. There’s no need for a status meeting to figure out what’s going on because it’s all visible on any device. You can’t hide stuff either, which increases accountability. Lanetix can not only enhance the work experience of Millennials, but it can also improve the bottom line. If data is more readily accessible, decisions can be made faster.
Flexible work hours—if you’re not using those at your company, they’re worth another look.
How to Keep Millennials at Your Company
64% of Millennials in the U.S. say they expect to move to another job within 5 years, and 44% would like to leave their current company within 2 years. That’s a lot of talent walking out the door.
Training and development is the #1 factor in Millennial retention at work.
And the type of training they want is specific: 71% of Millennials who think they are going to leave a company in two years feel like their leadership skills are not being developed by the company.
If Millennials feel their leadership skills are being developed, they will stay longer. This can be through formal training, or it can be organic. While a formal training program might be expensive, you have a training asset at your company right now that can be implemented for free: mentorship.
Implement a Mentorship Program at Your Company
It seems simple, but the numbers speak for themselves: Millennials intending to stay with their organization for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68%) than not (32%).
Mentors are most effective at the senior management level, regardless of which department they work in. Starting a mentorship program can be as simple as getting your CFO to take an employee out to lunch, talk on the phone or talk out their issues.
Mentorship works twofold: it helps increase retention, and it naturally improves communication between cross-sections of your company. The benefits are huge and there is very little downside.
One key issue to look out for is mentors have to buy into the program wholeheartedly. If senior executives feel that the program is a burden, it won’t work.
Have a Clear Mission Statement and Live Up to It
A shared sense of purpose is huge for retention. 70% of Millennials believe their personal values are shared by the organizations they work for.
Millennials seek employers with similar values, whatever they may be. To be absolutely clear, earning lots of money is as much a value as saving the rainforest — know your audience.
Nearly every company has a mission statement somewhere, but it is vital to keep communicating it, not just say it once during the interview or stuff it in your company boilerplate. Take time regularly to explain how the company lives up to it, and know that your employees will see right through a token effort.
Does it sound like we’ve put Millennials on a pedestal?
Good, because Millennials are also your customers. If you don’t like the way your Millennial-staffed sales or operations team works, or they don’t like your rigid structures, your customers won’t either! Practice communicating with Millennials on your own team to get better with your customers.
The company needs to change to meet the needs of its employees and its customers, not its senior management team.
Chris pioneers innovative marketing strategies to reach the supply chain and logistics industry. As the former CEO of eyefortransport, Chris developed eft into the world’s leading logistics business intelligence company, organizing CEO-level events around the world and specializing in cutting edge research, marketing strategy, M&A strategy and managing millennials.