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Managing Millennials In The Workplace

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In 2015, Amazon overtook Wal-Mart as the biggest U.S. retailer. Amazon is a unique employer who goes out of their way to draw millennial employees. Originally they were not very “employee-friendly.” Employees were driven to perform at their highest pace possible. Run like last century’s workplaces, the employees didn’t last long. Yet they still employee more millennials per capita than most every other employer in the U.S.

As we’ve seen, Millennials need constant affirmation: Amazon supplies this with ongoing evaluations, reviews, and status-updates. They also expect ideas and recommendations from everyone. If an employee has an idea that will improve productivity, they are recognized for bringing it up. The warning of a high turnover rate (only 15% of the company has been there more than 5 years) is a good fit for a generation of workers who average around 2 years at each employer. Add to that, the fact that their starting pay is higher than most every other employer in the area (starting pay at Amazon may start at fourteen dollars an hour up to twenty-one dollars an hour), plus full benefits, even for part time workers, it’s an attractive option, even if during holidays, workers are expected to work sixty or more hours per week.

Lazy people do not last at Amazon. The trial-by-fire approach Amazon employs will speak to Millennials’ desire for constant improvement and the acquisition of new skills—a generation raised on video games is always looking for the next way to “level up.”

Sure, Amazon’s corporate culture leaves a lot to be desired, but the company is not in danger of a Millennial employee exodus. The constant evaluations, evolving workplace, and ethos of constant improvement all appeal to a generation in need of regular feedback, short-term, career-focused positions, and achievement-driven employment. It is serving the needs of career-focused Millennials. Forbes Magazine listed Amazon as number 10 in the top 25 in a 2016 Millennial Career Survey Preferred Companies to work for.

The good thing about hiring a millennial who worked at least a few years at Amazon, they learned how to work hard, but do expect a great deal of feedback on a regular basis.

The most important factors in choosing an employer to millennials are as follows:

  • Treat employees fairly – 73.1%
  • Flexible work hours/schedule – 70%
  • Benefits – 60.1%
  • Corporate social responsibility – 46.6%
  • Base salary – 45.9%
  • Brand image of the company – 39.5%
  • Prestige – 30.5%
  • Performance bonus/rewards – 19%

What does this mean to you, the contractor and business owner?

First and foremost, on top of the millennial list we have “treat employees fairly” and “flexible work hours.”

Keep in mind, these people have been exposed a mindset that many corporations and businesses are only out to take advantage of their workers and are only concerned with making money. So naturally they are very concerned about being in an environment where they are treated poorly. Make sure that a new millennial is exposed to and engages with your most enthusiastic and positive team members. This will get them past the fear of just being a spoke in a wheel.

In regard to flexible work hours and schedule. It is a 24 hour a day world today. I see no problem making a schedule whereby an employee may work a 10 or 12-hour day and get an additional day or days off. In fact, studies have shown that an employee is more productive working 4 – 10 hour days rather then 5 – 8 hour days!

Obviously benefits are important, because we have a law that requires that everyone have health insurance. This is no doubt going to be on the top of the mind of any employee.

Corporate social responsibility. It should be a regular practice of any business to be socially responsible and involved in local events. It is not only a good thing to do, but helping out your local community reaps plenty of rewards for your business.

Salary is on everyone’s mind, but the next one, “Brand image of the company” is unique to millennials. The number one company that millennials wanted to work was “Google” in 2015. It is a well-known brand that they see all day long, because they are spending a large part of their day connected to the internet and social media. A millennial wants to be able to share and be proud of the brand they are working for.

Prestige and bonuses for performance should always be part of your culture. Using great metrics that are in line with organizational objectives, and a reward system that recognizes performance improvement, will always encourage gains in profitability if implemented correctly.

Millennials also expect a learning environment. They are very willing to learn new things if they recognize the benefits of why they are doing what they are doing. If you happen to get a millennial asking for a job who looks professional, shows up early, willing to work long hours and then pummels you with questions about what you have to offer and the expected long term benefits. . . Hire that person!  You have yourself a winner who will actually work. They have the right attitude. You can teach them everything else!

Please recognize that this group has been insulated from a lot of reality, steered in a direction of looking for utopia, and require a period of transition into the reality of a career in the contracting business.

So now what? The biggest challenge facing our business is finding employees. I encourage you to take the time to visit middle schools, high schools, and even colleges to share your knowledge and information on what is becoming the best career opportunity in this country. The potential for success and the highest need for employees is in the skilled trade industries.

Now is the best time to move forward with new objectives and different ways to get there.

Frank Besednjak

Posted In: ACCA Now, Management

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