Each and every year, hundreds of thousands of students graduate from colleges and universities from around the globe. These bright young minds, full of ideas and hope enter the job market ready to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom on the job. But are companies ready for this generation who are often referred to as Generation Y or Millennials?
The term Millennial is used to identify the segment of the population born approximately between 1980 and 2000. This is the generation where the use of technology is second nature. This is the generation who may be underestimated because of their youth or even dismissed by employers due to their lack of work experience. Certainly young adults have much to learn as they get their feet wet in the workplace and begin their new journey outside the protective and comforting arms of their parents. If an employer overlooks this generation however, they may be missing out on a huge opportunity.
The Chally Group, a global leadership and sales potential and performance measurement firm published a report entitled, “Making the Most of Millennial Talent.” The report was based on their Global Leadership Research Project featuring the “Best Companies for Leaders”. The essence of the study was to find out how to attract, train and retain the millennial generation to a company. The project surveyed approximately 300 CEOs and senior HR leaders spanning companies from under $25 million in revenue to over $10 billion, and from fewer than 50 employees to more than 100,000.
Here are the five ways the Chally Group found to be effective ways for companies to transform and rejuvenate their organization by utilizing the fresh, innovative perspectives of the future generation.
Companies must find new approaches to focus their recruitment efforts. One of those approaches is through social media. There is no doubt that social media has become the language of this generation. Companies will do well by refreshing their brand presence with a high emphasis on social media. Establishing partnerships with colleges and universities through co-op programs and internships can also make your company attractive to the best talent available. Being aware that some students have a need to be involved and included, emphasize your company’s philosophy around corporate social responsibility and community outreach programs.
Once your company has successfully recruited talent from the millennial generation, now it’s time to ensure their onboarding experience includes training programs that is “immediate, intensive, and sustained.” This step is crucial to ensuring your new hires are quickly engaged, productive, and encouraged to offer constant feedback. Again, inclusion and being a part of a company with a clear purpose drives this group. Training should involve a variety of learning experiences, from role-plays, activities; even games can help these new hires understand how to work as a team. It allows for the first phase of building relationships within the organization.
The development of the millennial generation must be strategic and ongoing. Developing more formal career paths with opportunities to develop or enhance leadership capabilities must be at the core of any training and development plan for these “digital natives”. At Verizon, they have implemented six programs intended to develop these future leaders. Their leadership development programs are in the areas of Engineering, Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology, Supply Chain and Marketing. Verizon offers a rigorous training curriculum for their high potential employees. These programs provide millennials opportunities for upward mobility in their professional careers.
- Organizational Change
Of the five ways to engage millennials revealed from the survey, I found this to be the most interesting and unique. It involves “cross-generational talent”. It supports a workforce culture of communication, collaboration and “reverse mentoring”. In essence, it allows for the exchange of information in both directions. The report deduced that, “millennial mentors gain the professional benefits of contact with senior managers, plus a gratifying level of visibility. They feel that their generation’s voices are being heard.” What this trend allows for is positive organizational changes, changes that embrace the diverse contribution and talents of all employees. This obviously will ensure employee engagement is high. As a management consultant one of the most difficult challenges companies face is communication. To experience organizational change, the company’s culture must be that of open, two-way communication.
- Next-generation development – Bigger, Better, Faster
Companies are continuously evolving. For this reason, development again is paramount to engaging top millennials. The report indicated that when companies are “faced with generational challenges at a time when so many other aspects of business are also changing, companies are responding swiftly and decisively. And by adapting the way the entire company functions to match the inclinations and capabilities of millennials, best-practice firms are affirming just how much each generation can offer to the others.” This responsiveness and awareness to an ever-changing corporate landscape, helps companies provide the environment that nurtures rather than challenges change. Leading organizations are taking deliberate steps to integrate the new generation into their cultures.
Taking into account the five ways listed above to engage the millennial generation, and the best practices of reputable corporations like GE, Verizon, Deloitte, and PwC, can open new opportunities to inject top talent, risk takers, diversity and a culture of collaboration among all generations.
Billie Bowe is the President and CEO of Benchmark Consulting Services Ltd., a management consulting firm with expertise in human resources management. We believe in a global, strategic approach to management consulting. As our clients’ needs change and evolve, we offer solutions that grow along with them. We work as ‘business partners’ with our clients bringing about innovative solutions that are aligned with their business goals and objectives.
Photo courtesy of Ted Eytan [FLICKR]