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I’m too “long in the tooth” to be considered a “millennial” (the much-maligned generation of young professionals entering the workforce today), but I have worked with, supervised, and hired enough of them to have some measure of sympathy, understanding, and respect for these people.
Older workers and employers bemoan the perceived lack of work ethics, contempt for a veteran employee’s experience, and the fact that they feel entitled. But mostly older workers don’t like that “they’re not like us.” It’s true millennials’ upbringing was a lot different than that of the Baby Boomers or the Gen Xers, (for example, Millennials were the first generation raised in daycare centers and with unprecedented access to technology that blew the rest of our minds.) The Baby Boomers are rapidly leaving the work force en masse and soon the Gen Xers are going to join them, so if you want your business to survive you had better make your peace with the younger generation. Here are some ways to attract and retain the best talent.
Related: 5 Ways Millennials Are Like No Generation Before Them
Offer student loan debt relief.
There was a time when all the top companies offered tuition-assistance; this wasn’t magnanimity — many of the Baby Boomers found themselves displaced from jobs that didn’t require a degree and were forced to take jobs where their lack of higher education would impede their success and growth. The companies responded by helping out with (in many cases generous) tuition assistance programs. Today’s young workers are over-educated yet burdened by crushing student loan debt. A program that provides Student Loan Debt Relief is likely to be popular and will keep the worker at the job as long as the aid and the debt remain.
Let them work remotely.
Old-school supervisors freak out at the thought that their workers might not be under their constant watchful eye — even though they are in so many meetings that they seldom see their employees anyway.
Related: When It Is — and Isn't — Worth Meeting in Person
I personally work from my home in a suburb of Detroit, assigned to an office based in Holland, MI (four hours away), for a company based in London, England. I am leading a team of professionals from Canada and the UK. The fact is, once the new employee is properly oriented to the work demands and expectations there is really little reason to keep them chained to desks. One large healthcare system lets its IT group work from home one day a week and is moving towards a two-day a week system. People like it and tend to get more work done and work longer hours without the having to commute.
Give them gadgets.
Tablets, smartphones, and laptops are practically cybernetic attachments to this generation. What’s more, these devices help them stay connected to coworkers and supervisors.
Restore the 40-hour work week.
Younger workers grew up watching both parents work around the clock, miss soccer games and dance recitals, and cancel weekends and vacation for work, only to be forced to take unwanted "furlough" day before seeing salaries cut and finally their job eliminated. Many young people aren’t prepared to show loyalty, be worked like an indentured servant, and cast away.
Related: A 40-Hour Work Week . . . Really?
Let them be social.
Young (and now many older workers) see nothing wrong with taking a break from work to post on Facebook, tweet something, or otherwise do something unproductive using the latest social networking app. You can choose to either accept that or loose your talent to a company that will.
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