In some ways, it’s a problem as old as time: Generational shifts arrive at work, and change must occur.
But today’s challenge feels unique. For perhaps the first time ever, four different generations can be found working together today. And the millennial workforce is now the largest of the four groups, according to data from a Pew Research report. There are plenty of millennial stereotypes, like a serious attachment to the smartphones they grew up with.
But those stereotypes can blind employers to what makes millennials tick and can make it difficult for even the savviest HR team to hire, retain or engage this group. It’s important to start with some basic understanding of who millennials are. The concept of BYOD is important to them, but they might not have a traditional bank account. And they don’t necessarily job hunt in the same ways previous generations have done so.
Once hired, though, the millennial workforce brings a unique spin that can be helpful if companies can get them to buy in. In industries as diverse as manufacturing and sales, a millennial workforce can bring a fresh perspective and key new skills to a job. This has turned out to be especially true when it comes to cybersecurity, where a millennial’s extensive exposure to technology can apparently help in the hunt for hackers.
Hiring the millennial workforce is just the first challenge. With a strong economy, job opportunities abound, and retention of millennials — and, for that matter, everyone else — is a struggle for many companies. Employee engagement is vital to keeping millennials content, but HR teams need to prepare for a different type of engagement. Millennials have a strong desire to learn and stretch themselves, which can translate to a need for increased training or job flexibility. HR tools, including analytics and even AI, can help teams keep track of employee trends, needs and interests and potentially offer new career paths and educational opportunities.
By some estimates, millennials will be 75% of the workforce by 2030, so it’s worth taking the time to understand them better.