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Millennials have forged their own perspective on what they want from a job—and leaders who don't recognize that may have a hard time building successful teams.
Brookings Institute predicted that by 2025, 75% of the US workforce will consist of Millennials, a generation born between the early 1980s and around 2000. The same Brookings research concluded that 83% of Millennials felt that too much power was concentrated in the hands of a few large companies.
"What we find is that Millennials in the job market are seeking a calling, not necessarily just a job," said Sarah Nahm, CEO of Lever, which provides HR recruitment solutions. "When Millennials look at job opportunities, they want to think of these opportunities in terms of the impact that the jobs have."
Because of this, Nahm said more companies are thinking about reframing their job postings in terms of job impact and not so much in terms of standard job descriptions and requirements. "For Millennials, it's all about what they will be able to achieve in a job over the next three, six, or twelve months."
Millennials are also less focused on getting ahead in companies by going the management route. "This generation doesn't necessarily equate growth with managing people anymore," she said.
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The effect on corporate CEOs and C-level managers can be negative if they don't respond to this philosophical sea change in the marketplace.
"Employers are competing against each each for a limited number of applicants who are capable of filling high-demand jobs (e.g., data architect, IoT expert, and analyst for a big data analytics team)," Nahm said. "Many of these job applicants are Millennials. To be attractive to Millennials, companies have to offer more than growth opportunities that all head down the management path. There should also be technical career paths that enable individuals to grow their expertise and to be fully rewarded for it."
SEE: Job description: Big data modeler
Millennials also expect companies to be more sensitive to their lifestyle and personal growth needs. They want their employers to offer ongoing education and a holistic work culture that lets them blend work and family needs.
"These workers don't want to exist in a work silo and then another silo that covers their life at home," Nahm said. "They also don't want to feel that their jobs preclude them from doing other things that matter to them."
An example is a for-profit company that initiated a program where employees could team up with a nonprofit enterprise to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. "The message of the company to its employees was that you don't necessarily have to go to work for a nonprofit to pursue a social justice issue that is important to you," she said.
What are the takeaways for CEOs and C-level managers trying to stay competitive in their recruiting and employee retention?
Foster a culture of engagement
Millennial workers were brought up with social media, so they want collaboration in their work projects. The silo approach of departments and functions separated from each other just doesn't work anymore. Organization leaders should also practice open and transparent communications.
Revisit your job postings and advertisements
Millennials are less interested than previous generations in what responsibilities a job entails—they're more interested in how the job can make a difference and/or affect the organization they are working in. In addition, they don't necessarily view management as the Holy Grail of career accomplishment. Many want advancement opportunities and salary increases based on non-management career choices.
Adopt a holistic approach to work
This approach should take into consideration overall lifestyle needs, as well as specific work needs. Paid leave after a child is born, or the ability to have flexible hours when other personal needs must be taken care of, are important to Millennials. This generation also bristles at cultures of intimidation and authoritarian management.
"In the end, employers need to acknowledge this generation's social and emotional needs, as well as the work accountabilities," Nahm said.
Top executives in the company must stay connected to this workforce. They need to emphasize collaboration in the leadership and daily operations of their companies. Corporate management is beginning to see this and to change its approaches to workforce recruitment, actuation, and retention.
"All of these factors are extremely important," Nahm said. "Because when employees leave your company, they aren't usually quitting jobs—they're quitting managers."