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Why Pleasing the Millennial Generation Can Benefit Everyone

Hiring Millennials and keeping them happy has been a perplexing endeavor for years. Are Millennials in the workforce truly lazy? Entitled? Hard to please? Are these just excuses older generations have come up with to explain their distinctly different work styles?

It’s likely this generation fast becoming the majority of your workforce and an increasing portion of your company’s management. If that’s not enough reason to understand the generation better, there’s this:  New survey data from Aon Hewitt shows that 43 percent of Millennials in the workforce plan to actively look for a new job in 2015. That’s great news if you’re actively hiring them. It’s not so great news when it comes to retaining the ones you already employ.To find out how to better recruit and retain Millennials, we went right to the source: Jason Dorsey, chief strategy officer for The Center for Generational Kinetics. Dorsey is known by viewers of 60 Minutes, 20/20, The Today Show and others as The Gen Y Guy® and is the leading expert on Millennials and solving generational challenges at work and in sales.

“The biggest mistake we see is recruiters using tactics that work for their own generation but not for Millennials,” Dorsey explains. “For example, the job description is text heavy rather than bullet points or they emphasize responsibilities when what Millennials really want are challenges and opportunities.”

Challenges? Yes, challenges. It’s a myth that most Millennials put fun and flexibility above all other work priorities. In the Aon Hewitt study, Millennials ranked pay and benefits (51 percent), good career or development opportunities (39 percent), and performance recognition (38 percent) as the top areas contributing to job satisfaction—not ping pong tables, late morning workday starts and weekly happy hours.

And then there’s the myth this generation is hard to please. Or is it a myth? They are passionate supporters of honesty, transparency, collaboration and shared vision in the workplace. In fact, one worldwide survey suggests half (52%) of Millennials believe honesty is the most important quality for being a good leader. Can your company and its leaders meet their standards in that area? Are your recruiting efforts passing this test?

“[Ditch] the canned videos about your company and instead have homemade videos by employees sharing what they love about working for you, along with what was unexpected and what they would say to a potential applicant,” recommends Dorsey. “Millennials, especially talented ones, want to see you humanize your company.”

If you fail to impress this generation or fail to retain them, says Dorsey, their dissatisfaction could be an opportunity for you to fix a crack in your company culture before it widens.

“If your company culture is not where it could be—and most recruiters and managers are wise enough to recognize this—then Millennials can be a great catalyst to take a new look at what would make your company a more rewarding and engaging place to work,” he says.

As an example, he recommends considering your company’s on-boarding process—specifically, the first day of employment.

“We know that Millennials have very different expectations for the first day at work,” Dorsey explains. “If their first day is not great you’ll know because they won’t show up for a second day, then your first day is probably not all that great for Gen X or Boomers, either. Changing specific things—such as the first day to make it more impacting and meaningful—has a ripple effect across every generation of new employees and can re-inspire current employees. Pick one, two or three tactics or strategies that really work with Millennials and integrate those into your larger culture so everyone benefits.”

If you’ve received criticism from Millennials about your company’s culture, are you taking it to heart? Have you investigated whether improving on those areas could make work better for all generations in your workplace? Perhaps they’re exposing weaknesses others have seen but not voiced.

For more insights, learn about the important work being done at The Center for Generational Kinetics and about Dorsey himself who, as an acclaimed speaker, has received over 1,000 standing ovations.

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