As of today, we do and we don’t have the millennials figured out, as far as what they seek in the workplace. But as their numbers grow, the answers are becoming more important. By 2025, according to Forbes, millennials will “fuel” 75 percent of the U.S. workplace, and 50 percent worldwide.
The age of Seth Mattison, FutureSight Labs founder, is not noted in a piece on a talk he gave on millennials in the workplace recently. But he may be reporting as one of their number, based on his easy explanation of where they are coming from, fundamentally: He explained, according to the Denver Post, that this portion of the workforce “doesn’t get” the unwritten rules of hierarchy. Unwritten, unneeded, in other words.
IT Business Edge’s Don Tennant wrote this morning about his talk with Addison Group national IT practice manager Jeff Remis, who has learned a few things from recruiting and hiring millennials, including that their career expectations are generally high:
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.
Those millennials will have to find “small wins,” Mattison optimistically suggests, to build their credibility with their coworkers.
And training expert Lindsey Pollak says in an interview with executive coach Michael Woodward on FoxBusiness.com that millennials want mentorship and “an employer who encourages and helps facilitate professional growth in the workplace.” Unfortunately, she also reports that employers find that, as a group, millennials hide behind technology, lack basic communication skills, and are unwilling to do entry-level work.
Not all millennials are unfailingly confident about what the world of work will provide for them, though. One surprising area in which millennials are not setting themselves apart from the Boomers or Gen X is in negotiating initial salaries. They don’t know how to do it, either, writes Jenna Goudreau at Business Insider. And a general fear of not getting the job at all in a tough market is creating a lower baseline for many in this age group, she says.
If seemingly contradictory skill sets and career goals can be reconciled, it may happen first in places where companies appeal to the desire to “do good” among millennials, writes Jean Case at Forbes. Idealistic young workers “are driving a fundamental change [in] the way we think about corporate culture and what we see as the potential for impact in the social sector by both companies and employees.” Employee engagement efforts based on this need for meaningful work may provide the best avenue for cutting through the fluff of miscommunications and extracting the best from the millennial generation.