Everybody, quick, tear down those cubes and pull the time clocks off the wall. Ditch your ties and throw on a hoodie. The Millennials are coming! The Millennials are coming!
Okay, so I’m no Paul Revere, but it seems everyone is warning if you don’t change your workplace, you’ll lose out on hiring the best and brightest of the upcoming generation. Consultants who couldn’t tell Skout from Whisper ply their services at high rates, claiming they know the secret to attracting kids fresh out of college. The interweb teems with articles that include “Five Ways” or “12 Things You Need” to bring Millenials into your organization. Most of these articles are written by balding men with Dad-bods, working in their underwear after their toddlers have been put to bed.
And what do these sages of the Next Great Generation have to tell you? Here’s a smattering from various articles on what Millenials are looking for in a workplace:
Praise and acknowledgement for their work
To be their own bosses
If they have to have a boss, the boss should be a coach and mentor
To have a collaborative work environment
In other words, they’re spouting a bunch of BS.
It’s futile to define a generation, especially this one. There are 80 million Millenials in the United States. To report on them as if they all grew up the exact same way, with the exact same influences and the exact same desires, hopes and dreams is like saying all cars are the same because they all have four wheels and an engine. Consider this – Millenials were born as early as 1980 and as late as 2000. That’s a fairly long time span as far as humans are concerned. How can anyone say that any two people are similar simply because they were born two decades apart? After all, in 1980, most people were listening to music on cassette tapes and record albums. By 2000, both these items had become relics and replaced with CDs.
The self-proclaimed experts say they are not talking about all Millenials being the same, but about trends. But even if 80 percent of Millenials all want the same things out of a workplace, that still leaves 16 million who want something completely different. That’s a lot of candidates for your next open position. And who’s not to say those in that 20 percent aren’t the ones you want to hire?
But supposing they are right about what the Millenials who you want to hire desire in a workplace, so what? If you look at the list above, you’ll realize these are items most people would like to have in their workplace, whether they were born in 1990 or 1940. After all, who doesn’t want to do meaningful work in a positive environment, with the ability to come and go as you please and get rewarded with praise for doing it? Who doesn’t want to continually grow and expand in their chosen profession? Who hasn’t at least had a fleeting dreamed of being their own boss? In fact, a recent survey by the IBM Institute of Business Value reveals that Millenials aren’t all that different from previous generations.
There is one difference, however. Millenials are still young and naïve enough to believe that they can get everything they want from a workplace. I don’t blame them for this. When I was in college, I wanted to do something big, something important. I thought money didn’t matter as long as I was fulfilling my dreams. Then reality set in. Now, with kids and a mortgage, I have to be more practical. Sure, I still want to like my job, but I also have to have a steady income that pays the bills and health care benefits. Millenials have to have these same things, they just don’t know it yet.
So, if you want to attract Millenials, you should forget the espresso machines and casual days and free beer Fridays and focus on a good pension plan and affordable health insurance. Stop trying to give them what they want. Instead, try giving them what they need.