Episode #48 – All About Hiring and Retaining Millennial Employees

Sharita: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, search consultant Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers in the Animal Health Industry and Veterinary Profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary Organizations acquire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary Professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

 

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking all about hiring and retaining Millennial employees. Welcome, Stacy. Thank you for joining us.

 

Stacy: Hello, Sharita. I’m glad to be here today.

 

Sharita: Stacy, Millennials have been in the news quite a bit during the last several years. In fact, just a couple of years ago, didn’t they surpass Gen Xers as the largest generation in the U.S. workforce?

 

Stacy: Yes, they did! Now, more than one-in-three American workers today are Millennials. Before we proceed, though, let’s define the category for Millennials. Those who belong to the Millennial Generation were born in the year 1982 or after. As far as the workforce is concerned, that’s anyone roughly between the ages of 18 and 35.

 

Sharita: But when you think about the Millennial Generation, you usually think of somebody in their 20s?

 

Stacy: That’s right. That’s what you might call the “sweet spot” of the generation, anywhere from 22 to 30 years of age.

 

Sharita: Now Stacy, as we all know from reading the headlines in articles and blog posts, the Millennial Generation has gotten something of a “bad rap” over the years. Can you talk about that for us?

 

Stacy: Yes, and you’re right: they have sometimes received a “bad rap” in the national news media. They’ve been portrayed in a lot of negative ways, including as lazy, entitled, and unambitious. In fact, at one point, it became almost fashionable to talk about Millennials in this way. You might call it “Millennial-bashing.”

 

Sharita: But this is all a little over-blown, isn’t it?

 

Stacy: Absolutely. Millennials have not earned the reputation that many people have labeled them with. They’re like every other generation that’s ever lived. Think about it. The youngest generation has always been looked down upon a little bit by the generations that preceded it. That’s just part of human nature and behavior.

 

Sharita: But it does cause a bit of a dilemma in the workforce, since there are so many Millennials, with more entering the workforce every day.

 

Stacy: It does cause a dilemma. There was a Governance Studies at Brookings Report a couple of years ago that stated Millennials will comprise more than one out of three adult Americans by the year 2020 and that they’ll represent 75% of the workforce by the year 2025.

 

Sharita: So employers certainly have to figure out the best way to deal with Millennials, wouldn’t you say?

 

Stacy: I would absolutely say that’s the case. The fact of the matter is that, just like every other generation, there is tremendous value in the Millennial Generation. They have plenty to offer to employers. And since it looks as though they’re going to soon comprise 75% of the workforce, it would be a good idea to know how to successfully hire and retain the members of this generation as employees.

 

Sharita: What does the Millennial Generation have to offer to employers? Can you talk about that a little bit?

 

Stacy: Well, as you probably know, Millennials are very good with technology. They literally grew up with technology, including the Internet, tablets, and smartphones. In addition, they have more of an entrepreneurial spirit and they value teamwork and collaboration. They also place a high emphasis on company culture, and they want to find meaning in their work. It’s not that Millennials don’t offer value to employer; it’s that they offer a different kind of value than the generations that preceded them.

 

Sharita: Okay, if the value that Millennials bring to the table is different, what does that mean for employers?

 

Stacy: First, it means that employers have to be able to recognize the value that Millennials offer. And second, employers must motivate Millennials in the proper way.

 

Sharita: What does that mean, motivate them in the proper way?

 

Stacy: It’s the same philosophy as the value. You can motivate Millennials, just like you can motivate members of every generation. However, the things that motivate them are different than the things that motivate members of the other generations.

 

Sharita: What does motivate them?

 

Stacy: Well, Strategy firm Department26 recently conducted study that dealt with Millennials. Not surprisingly, the study revealed that money is not a main motivator for Millennials.

 

Sharita: Don’t Millennials have a lot of student loan debt?

 

Stacy: They do! They have more student loan debt than any other generation. But according to this report, accumulating wealth is not a priority for them?

 

Sharita: What are their priorities?

 

Stacy: According to this study, there are three main ones. The first one is passion. They want to feel as though they’re pursuing their passions. The second one is feedback. There’s a misnomer that Millennials are sensitive and don’t respond well to feedback, especially if that feedback is critical. But that’s just not the case. Millennials are motivated by feedback. They need and want it.

 

Sharita: What’s the third thing?

 

Stacy: That would be vision. When I say that, I mean the vision that their employer has for the future. They want to know if that vision exists, and if it does exist, they want to know what it is. Not only that, but they want to know their role within that vision. They want to know that they have a future and their career has a future at the organization. If they don’t feel that way, they won’t want to work there, either as a potential employee or a current employee.

 

Sharita: So how can employers do these things? How can they engage Millennials in a way that will allow them to successfully hire them and then retain them once they’ve been hired?

 

Stacy: Well, there’s a handful of things that employers can do. I’m going to start with the obvious one, which is to motivate them properly. That means allowing them to pursue their passion, providing them with as much feedback as possible, and clearly communicating the organization’s vision to them.

 

Sharita: That makes sense. What else can employers do?

 

Stacy: The second thing is to emphasize purpose over profit. As we discussed a few minutes ago, Millennials are not concerned with nor motivated by accumulating wealth. Sure, money is important and they’re not going to accept an offer of employment that doesn’t have a solid starting salary. However, it’s not their number-one motivator. What they really want is to know that what they’re doing is making the world a better place. They also want to know that the organization that they work is also making the world a better place. The way to engage with Millennials is to empower them. But don’t try to empower them with money. Instead, empower them with purpose.

 

Sharita: Okay, what’s next on the list?

 

Stacy: Employers have to not concern themselves too much about the fact that Millennials might be considered “job hoppers.” There are two key points here. First, Millennials change jobs more frequently than any other generation. In fact, they can change jobs as frequently as every 18 months to two years. Second, there isn’t as much of a stigma attached to job hopping as there once was. You have to remember, back in the day, people worked for the same company for 40 years and retired with a gold watch. That is not happening these days. The Millennial generation is a generation that values mobility and flexibility. That includes their professional life, as well as their personal life.

 

The next thing is to take their point of view into consideration, especially the fact that they grew up during the Great Recession. Many of them were in middle school or high school at the time. They may have seen what the recession did to their parents or how it impacted their family. As a result, they have a healthy degree of skepticism when it comes to the corporate world. They don’t feel as loyal to their employers as perhaps other generations do, which is probably another reason that they change jobs more frequently.

 

Sharita: What else do we have on our list?

 

Stacy: Well, we have one more thing, and that’s to “speak their language”?

 

Sharita: What does that mean, to “speak their language”?

 

Stacy: As you probably already know, Millennials communicate differently than previous generations. Once again, there are two key areas here. The first one involves slang and jargon. Every generation has its down slang and jargon. As an employer or a manager, it would be a good idea to know what those are for the Millennial Generation. The second area is how technology has affected their communication. Once again, they grew up with smartphones, tablets, social media, and instant messaging. All day long, they communicate with emojis and acronyms. So also keep that in mind when it comes to Millennials and communication.

 

Sharita: It sounds as though hiring and retaining Millennials takes a certain degree of effort on the part of the employer.

 

Stacy: Yes, but it takes a certain amount of effort to hire all candidates right now. We’re in a candidates’ market, which we’ve discussed on more than one occasion in this podcast. Employers can not take a “sit back and wait” approach to hiring. That’s the case not just with Millennials, but with all top candidates in the marketplace.

 

There are many top candidates out there who are Millennial candidates. They have plenty to offer in the way of value, and they offer that value at multiple levels. If employers want to hire these Millennial candidates and take advantage of the value that they offer, then they must learn to identify what motivates them and then make sure that the hiring process reflects that. If not, then they will not be able to hire Millennials, and even if they do hire them, they won’t be able to retain them for very long.

 

Sharita: Stacy, thanks so much for all of this great information today.

 

Stacy: Thank you, Sharita. I look forward to our next podcast!