Millennials in the Workforce Study – Part One

I was inspired to do this study because we assess Millennials as job candidates and employees every day, and I’ve read and heard generalizations about this group that do not align with my observations. By tapping into the scientific data we have accumulated on nearly 14,000 individuals over the last 20 years, I am in a unique position to shed some light as to why these generalizations persist, and more importantly, how to hire, manage, and retain the services of a generation of employees with 10-15 years of experience at a time when we need qualified employees the most!

The Millennial generation is different from other generations, but the differences suggest they will often make very good employees, though of course there are always “bad apples” to avoid as with any group of people you consider for hire. The differences between Millennials and their non-Millennial colleagues and bosses suggest that they don’t communicate the same way. This miscommunication tends to cause each generation to look at the other in bewilderment and ascribe beliefs and motivations to the other that are often untrue.

Highlights from the study

The similarities—a substantial list:

  • Millennials and non-Millennials highly and equally value knowing and learning. Both groups tend to be intellectually curious and like to stay on the cutting edge of their fields.
  • Both groups highly value a conflict and drama free environment. The non-Millennials value this somewhat more strongly.
  • Similarly, both groups value Return on Investment (ROI) at a modest level, though non-Millennials value this somewhat more strongly.
  • Both groups tend to be flexible and do not subscribe to any particular ideology about how things ought to be done. Both groups rank aesthetics and creativity dead last.

The biggest differences all tend to be related to the first and most important point:

  • Millennials are 75% more likely to value teamwork and supporting others over their non-Millennial counterparts. This factor has dramatic consequences for communications and expectations.
  • Related to this, while both groups tend to have “people” oriented behavior styles, non-Millennials are twice as likely as Millennials to have a strong “task” aspect to their behavior styles as opposed to being more “people” oriented.
  • Similarly, 85% of the Millennials have a “talent” for relationships, listening, and communicating well with others, which is stronger than the non-Millennials, but not dramatically so. The big difference is that non-Millennials are more than twice as likely as Millennials to be planning and rule focused and have a “command and control” leadership style.

This last point assures a tremendous upside potential for hiring and retaining Millennials:

  • Millennials are 50% more likely than non-Millennials to have strong energy and drive for performance. The flipside of that point is that Millennials are 20% less likely than non-Millennials to have low energy and drive for performance.

In summary, Millennials tend to have strong energy and drive for performance and be team-oriented, where non-Millennials tend to be naturally self-oriented and have somewhat lower energy and drive for performance as a group. This difference explains most of the misunderstandings noted in my opening. Millennials and non-Millennials see a different world—so they are responding as if they live in separate universes! Non-Millennials tend to think that everyone should follow the rules, give higher consideration to the task at hand (deadlines, schedules, and quality), and less consideration to the people side (work-life issues, feelings, family time, and so on)—so when they meet a Millennial who switches around those priorities it’s often perceived as “laziness and self-absorption”. From the Millennial’s point of view, the non-Millennial owner/leader is perceived as being “unreasonable and uncaring”. Both sets of perceptions lead to false assumptions about the other group and miscommunication.

There is a fundamental difference in how many Millennials perceive and carry themselves in the world compared to their bosses and company owners—and it has serious implications in hiring, managing and retaining Millennials. Millennials are in the sweet spot for most new hires with up to 15 years experience in their field, employers must find a way to integrate them successfully into the workplace.

NEXT TIME: I will explore how to use this information to manage your (expanding) Millennial workforce with retention and business growth firmly in mind.

Copyright © 2019 Strategic Talent Management, Inc.

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