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By: Kathy Albarado on October 13th, 2014

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Millennial Review: New Workforce, New Expectations

Communication | Business Management & Strategy

Last week I moderated a panel of rock star millennials at the Professional Services Council (PSC) annual conference. Kudos to Stan Soloway, CEO of PSC, and his amazing team for putting together such a high performing panel.  Our panelists included: Greg Gershman, Principal and co-founder, Ad Hoc LLC; Dr. Courtney Kennedy, Vice President of Advanced Methods, Abt SRBI and Steve Ressler, Founder & President, We had such a dynamic conversation with over 300 attendees that I thought our conversation would make a great blog post.

Millennials, a term used to describe those under age 34, are challenging the baby boomers (now over 50), and the GenXers are caught in the middle.

Why Should We Care?Millennials in the Workplace

Forty-six million millennials age 20-34 are currently employed in the U.S.  A full 86 million will be in the workplace in less than 6 years—representing 40% of the total U.S. workforce.

What Do They Care About?

They say:

  • It’s a priority to make the world a better place;
  • They would rather be their own boss—but if they must have a boss—they prefer one who coaches, mentors and develops them;
  • They prefer a collaborative environment over a competitive one;
  • Flexibility in their work schedules is key;
  • They strive for work/life integration; and
  • They expect to have the right tools to do their job and want us to understand ‘why’ they need those tools.

Taking the above into consideration, it gives us an opportunity to reflect on our policies and practices:

  • How robust are your community impact initiatives? Are they reflected in your brand and are they part of your recruitment and retention strategy?
  • What are you doing to develop your managers into strong coaches and mentors? Do you provide adequate training for them to be admired and effective leaders?
  • How do you provide an opportunity for people to work in teams? Does their compensation/recognition and rewards reflect the performance of the team?
  • How are you providing flexibility and are you communicating that it is indeed available as part of your culture? Note: flexibility is different from a need to work remotely all the time.
  • With the enhancements in technology available our work and personal lives are much more blended—or integrated. How do you recognize that and encourage your employees to bring their ‘authentic and whole selves’ to work each day?
  • Do you know what tools they need to be successful in their roles and do they have those tools provided on a proactive basis?

We find millennials look to align themselves with organizations that:

  1. Have a purpose they can connect with;
  2. A culture they can thrive in; and
  3. Make an impact in its community.

They are socially conscious; bring innovation; are impatient in their career aspirations and find comfort in having their future clearly communicated and laid out.   They want to know HOW they can achieve success—on whatever terms it is defined.

Often we hear more frustration from leaders surrounding managing the expectations of millennials rather than focusing on leveraging their strengths.  Our dialog was rich, energizing and highly participative.  In addition to giving consideration to the above, our panelists suggested that we:

  1. Think of our own company as an R&D lab—leverage your millennials in this capacity with special projects;
  2. Have your millennials run your internship programs;
  3. Leverage your millennials for alumni programs and meet ups;
  4. Repackage what you do offer that will attract this workforce; and
  5. Listen and learn from them!

Feel free to reach out to the Helios team if you’d like to engage in further dialog about how best to leverage the forever growing and innovative millennial workforce!