More and more, particularly as one generation retires (“baby boomers”) and others begin moving into their late twenties and early thirties – prime working years – the conversation about “millennials” and their work habits is being discussed ever more frequently.
Even communities are having their public policy decisions informed around the millennial lifestyle.
The staffing industry should be no different and should take a serious look at this ever growing cohort of workers.
Who are the Millennials?
We have to recognize that the workforce is rapidly changing.
For the first time, there are five generations together in the workforce. Currently, “Traditionalists” make up 1%, “Baby Boomers” 29%, “Generation X” 34%, “Millennials” 34% and “Post Millennials” 2%. By 2020, Millennials will make up a majority of the workforce.
As an industry, it is wise for us to recognize that the millennial workforce has different needs and it is imperative to find ways to satisfy those needs.
The millennial generation is the first generation coming into the workforce with debt. They have never experienced a good economy while in the workforce, they see limited entry-level type jobs, especially as more companies continue to operate lean, and they are the most educated generation of all five.
They have a strong sense of community and they also like to spend time after work with the people they work with. However, Millennials can feel stifled in their ability to be creative with the amount of control many employers require of the employees. They care tremendously about a healthy work/life balance and differ from other generations in that they will work until the job is done, but don’t want to remain at work to simply punch a clock at 5:00 pm, if they have accomplished all their tasks. Technology provides a means to not having to be limited to working within an office to get their job done. Telecommuting, flexible work schedules, global teams to offer 24/7 work coverage, part time schedules, contracting, working telephonically and job sharing are all taking place in corporate America.
The staffing industry is uniquely poised to accommodate Millennials. A quick review provides unique aspects of working with a staffing firm and you can see why.
Staffing firms have temporary, long term, temp to hire and direct hire positions. Employees are able to accept or decline assignments when a placement specialist calls with a job offer.
The placement specialist will share with the employee or applicant information about the client and what they do, the hours the position requires, the length of the assignment, the potential for permanent hire, the pay rate on a temporary and permanent basis, and the company culture. The employee has the ability to pick and choose assignments based on all of these variables and, in many cases, will interview first with the client in a longer term or temp to hire position.
The candidate can consider the potential of being able to work for a variety of firms in many industries to determine what best suits them as an employee looking for a long term home with an employer and position they truly enjoy. Both the employer and employee are able to ensure the match is perfect before moving to permanent hire status when positions require.
Temporary and contract work can be key to engaging the millennial workforce as it provides enough flexibility to keep pace with clients and their ever changing needs.
Millenials are also a tech savvy generation and companies that excel at attracting this workforce will offer technologies that support the way millenials communicate.
For example, instant messaging such as Skype for Business or staffing firms that use texting to share job openings with multiple employees at the same time offer two examples that are likely to support how millennials communicate. After all, if millennials are most often on their phone and texting is their primary form of communication, this is a good method to reach out to them for a quick response.
Additionally, firms should also encourage innovation and creativity by allowing millennials to be connected and engage in social media. Firms should also reach out to millennials through social media and in a way that’s appropriate for the platform.
Being Flexible and Socially Responsible
Flexibility is going to be key. The millennial generation has seen the ways of their elders and, like it or not, they expect different. Their work-life balance views are much different and companies have to adjust to keep them engaged and producing.
This generation needs and wants to work, they just want to work differently than their predecessors.
For example, companies can look to personalize the employee experience, such as providing their employees with an “a la carte” benefit experience where they can select what meets their needs in terms of vacation, health insurance, etc.
Millennials will also notice if your company’s mission statement includes corporate responsibility and you are building a trusted brand.
Being socially responsible and having community involvement are key to millennials, which also includes a commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Moving up the ladder
Previous generations felt more in line with the generation before them, reconciling the notion of “this is the way things are done and they accepted a more directive form of leadership style. However, the Millennial generation responds better to a coaching style of leadership. Companies who adopt coaching where they look to help employees succeed, will benefit. Coaching daily verses the annual employee evaluation is also on the rise.
Millennials do want responsibility, a path to leadership, less bureaucracy, a sense of purpose, the ability to be creative, flexibility and a voice. They appreciate being grown and groomed to work for a company.
The firm that provides training, encourages citizen leadership, is open and transparent is likely to have success with millennials.
Staffing companies are going to have to work closely with their clients to build employment opportunities that meet the complex demands of the millennial generation, if they want the talent pipeline to remain full.
By incorporating technology, infusing flexibility into traditional work-norms, exercising corporate responsibility, offering creative benefits, challenges and coaching in the work place will meet client demand when employing the millennial generation.