Millennials in the Workplace

We all hear a lot about the impact of Millennials, right? They’re changing the way we recruit and hire, market ourselves, and do business. This is one influential group! And we have our share at Mosaic: did you know we have 16 Millennials – people born after 1982 – on staff? That’s 30% of our team! This surprised me – I didn’t realize our numbers were so high. And that’s a good thing.

I recently participated in an EO Think Tank in Nashville on Working with Millennials, along with business owners from a wide variety of industries. A few of the companies represented included professional services, healthcare providers, restaurants, retail, event and party planning, salon services, and more.

All of these companies had Millennials represented on their teams, some as high as 100% of their workforce. And their opinions and experiences on working with this generation were as different as night and day. Business owners talked about the challenges of recruiting, training, retaining and motivating these employees. Regardless of the industry we work in or the percentage of this generation on our staff or in our target market, it’s a common challenge we’re all trying to get our heads around: how do we engage this diverse and talented group who’s motivated by different drivers than those that we built our careers on?

I came away with a lot of interesting insights I wanted to share with you. Not everything applied to me or to our team here at Mosaic, but I thought the general insights of the group had value and wanted to pass along what I heard on to you.

Here’s what I learned:

You guys rock. (This isn’t news.) As you all know, Mosaic’s younger team members are highly creative, motivated, engaged, collaborative, and have a strong work ethic. And we love that!

You like to make a difference. Employees from this generation thrive in industries like professional services, insurance, wealth management, and home health care – serving others in a tangible way.

Culture and work environment are important. This group has high expectations when entering the workforce – as if every working environment should be Google-like with free coffee and laundry service (if only, right?)

Recognition and reward pays off. Significant progress in stature or pay is important. Unlike previous generations who were willing to put in the blood, sweat and tears for an extended period of time, a more immediate return on investment, so to speak, is important.

Show me the money! While those of us in Gen X and Y might have focused on planning ahead, retirement savings, and so on, Millennials are more focused on the here and now: making money, spending money, making more money, etc. – not thinking about retirement but more immediate life needs and wants.

Kinder and gentler. Millennials have been brought up to be much more liberal when it comes to politics and economics. This generation is more cause-driven than those that came before.

What’s in it for me? Although seemingly more tolerant, there also seems to be a sense of entitlement among this group. The recession in 2008/2009 had a big impact on this generation. For the first time in history, a highly educated generation entered the workforce carrying more school debt but earning less than the prior generation. Note to self: don’t enter the workforce during a recession!

Technology savvy. Millennials are very technology-focused. Many participants said that if they send an email to a Millennial, they’ll receive a text reply. In an effort to communicate more effectively, some are turning to apps such as Marco Polo and Slack.

We’re in this together. Group accountability is important. The success of the team and everyone pulling their own weight is important to this group. One organization uses Top Grading where everyone is peer-reviewed and the results are visible to everyone. A players continue working; B players are coached and trained up, and C players are let go. A and B players are very motivated by this approach and C players usually self-select out.

Be real. Lastly, the group talked about working with Millennials as customers and the challenges in connecting with them. Most reach millennial customers through social media but all agreed that the posts had to be authentic. For example, a self-made video appears to be more reliable and meaningful in reaching a Millennial than a polished marketing video.

Be relevant. We’ve got to reach this group where they live. Everybody does business on their mobile device. The Wealth Management Company uses an app to entice Millennials to participate in investing. Getting a Millennial to make an appointment to meet an investment representative in an office is impossible. But if they can decide on how to invest via an app, then they are much more likely to do it. Do you agree?

A little light reading, your e-mail in-box and more…

Finally, other observations centered on professional development and time management. In keeping with our focus on good books to broaden your perspective and grow your career: a participant recommended the book The 5-Hour Work Day, which is loosely based off Tim Ferris’ book, The 4-Hour Work Week. It talks about how top performers got the same amount of work done in 5 hours instead of the typical 8-hour day – and the hourly rate was inflated to compensate for the difference. In the time saved, employees got to spend their extra time doing other things. How cool would it be to be as productive in 25 hours a week as a 40-hour week – and get paid the same? And have that extra time to devote to the things that you love?

Another participant practices the 3 D’s in his company as it relates to emails: Do it, Delete it, or Delegate it. They have been practicing this for nearly two years and he has seen an increase in productivity and efficiency. I’m going to put this into practice myself!

Isn’t it amazing how a generation can change the way people think, hire, and do business?

I think this happens with nearly all generations in the workforce — but Millennials are definitely having a tangible and lasting effect, either because you’re encouraging all of us to shift our thinking or because you’re forcing all of us to focus on new ways of connecting, whether that means embracing new technology or new ways of relating to one another.

Either way, I’m thankful for our Millennial Mosaicians. You inspire us, challenge us, and force us to think differently. Your contribution to Mosaic helps us stay relevant and hip. And I love it when you teach some of us old dogs new tricks! By the way, does anyone know how to turn on Family Sharing on my iPad?

Carry on, you crazy kids!