Recognize that young IT pros aren’t necessarily at their peak from nine to five. Knock down the cubicle walls. And understand that millennials are unlikely to stick around very long if they don’t feel like they’re being given an opportunity to make an impact and a difference.
That was some of what I took away from an interview last week with Jeff Remis, national IT practice manager at Addison Group, a Chicago-based staffing and recruitment firm that specializes in IT. Early in the conversation, Remis mentioned that he prefers working with millennials, and I asked him why. He rattled off a list of reasons:
They love to learn—they love to be taught. What I’ve learned is that their passion and their eagerness those first couple of years in the job market make them want to change the world—they want to impact the world in a positive way. These folks identify new opportunities. They want to take on big challenges—they’re not afraid of going after the whales in our industry. They’re a little bit more fearless, because the confidence is there right when they graduate.
I asked Remis what’s most important to millennials when they’re considering whether or not to accept a job, and specifically whether compensation tops the list. He said compensation ranks around No. 3:
More often than not, people want flexibility and freedom from the rules that society has out there, like the whole nine-to-five thing. Maybe that’s not when someone is most productive, so by giving them the flexibility to work with flex hours, or possibly work from home, [they can be more productive]. They don’t want the work environment to feel like work. The other thing we’re hearing is they like a lot of interaction and socializing at work. The environments that allow for this, a lot of them don’t have cubicles—they’ve got large table areas that foster communication and collaboration. While some companies would see that as lost productivity, millennials thrive on that—that’s where they get their energy. When you take down the walls, it becomes an extension of the social media world that they’re in. It’s just taking the screen away, and enabling them to do it in person.
I wondered to what extent millennials have unrealistic expectations driven by stories they hear coming out of Silicon Valley of people their age with seven-figure compensation packages. Remis said he does sometimes have to bring people back down to reality a bit, but that’s seldom what makes or breaks the deal:
If money is the No. 1 driver, typically it’s difficult for us to find top dollar, unless we know, and we can verify, they have a skill that someone [else] doesn’t have. When I talk to these folks, I really find out what they want, and what I’m hearing is they want to make an impact on the company they’re working in. They want to see the work they do changing things.
Remis added that millennials tend to have high expectations with respect to promotions:
I do see millennials seeking management and leadership roles a lot earlier in their careers than maybe the baby boomers did. Boomers were comfortable sitting in a chair for five or 10 years, and then getting that promotion. That was normal, and what they expected, whereas millennials want to be promoted every year. They want the advancement—the attention, the love, the recognition.
I asked Remis how open millennials tend to be to relocation, and he said they’re very open to it:
They like the journey—in our company, we’ve relocated millennials, and we’ve had zero problem doing that with the right sort of promotion to go with it. I tend to hear that for the right job, where they feel they can make an impact, they are open to relocation. There are some areas that are much more attractive—Austin and Denver are big ones. I get asked weekly if there are any openings in those areas that people could interview for.
Finally, Remis noted that using predictive analytics can be helpful in flagging behaviors that may have a negative impact on retention:
A couple of my clients utilize predictive analytics software during the interview process. This ties more into retention down the road, vs. making the right hire that day. If you conduct the test early on in the interview process, you can use the results to create questions in order to vet that out.