When it comes to diversity, we are well aware of the importance of having a good mixture of gender, race, and cultural backgrounds. Sometimes we forget that age is also a great piece of the diversity puzzle. Millennials are the newest to enter adulthood and the workforce and boy have they shaken things up. Most of the time the millennial generation gets a bad rap, but they have changed the way we look at careers, perhaps for the better. So what is it that this generation is looking for? How are they attaining their aspirations?
For millennials, balancing work and life are extremely important. They want more than just to work and come home and go to bed. If you look outside of the US, some countries have even made the work week shorter, either by cutting it to 4 days a week or by cutting the daily hours from 8 to 6. It was even statistically proven in Sweden that the average employee gets the same amount of work done in 6 hours as they would in 8 but their morale increased because they got to go home and spend more time with their families.
How can we use this information as diversity professionals? It helps us understand the millennials. Diversity is way more than just religion, gender, or race. Our generations are diverse as well. Knowing what it is that this new workforce is craving from a work environment could keep them at the organization longer.
Because of the growing percent of people who want a better balance, the way organizations hire or set hours have changed. Some opt to allow people to work from home. Others made Friday’s into half days. This growing trend for more balance is, in fact, changing the workforce.
Millennials tend to be seen as not so loyal when it comes to keeping a job. The truth is, they are more opportunistic. They leap after opportunities. On average, a millennial tends to stay at a job for about 2 years. This is important when you go to hire the right candidate for that open position. So why are millennials jumping ship after a couple years? How can we keep them longer?
If you go to Google with these questions, you will find a plethora of answers. The truth is that millennials are just always on the lookout for a better job with better pay and benefits. Their loyalty lies with them and their families. If they were to take a job that had great benefits, amazing pay, and perfect hours, chances are they would stay at that job much longer than two years.
So, as an organization, I am sure you are wondering what is the point then of investing so much time and money into a millennial if they plan to just leave in a couple years? As diversity leaders it’s important to remember that this is what sets Millennials apart from other generations. If they receive the bare minimum, the organization will suffer for it. If they are trained well and given fair pay and benefits, they may stay longer. In the end it’s still worth the time, effort, and money of the organization to hire and train these young professionals. Especially, because although the growing trend to leave one organization for another is high in the millennial generation, the trend to come back to the organization after a few years into a different role is also high with millennials.
Millennials have certain expectations in the workforce. Good benefits are part of those expectations. Benefits aren’t just having a good health plan and a 401K anymore. So as diversity professionals we need to get a little more creative here. Millennials are looking for balance. They want to do what they love and be paid well to do it. Part of that pay is in good benefits. More paid time off, paid maternity leave, paid paternity leave, etc. Making the organization more personal and family oriented will make them feel important and if organizations take care of their employees, the employees will take care of the organization.
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So how can we aid in bringing value to the millennials from a diversity stand point? We need to let them know we care. We need to build a decent work relationship with them and let them know they can come see us about anything. As diversity professionals we have to be that extra personal touch the organization needs in order to make this new working generation feel important to our structure. We can attain this goal by hosting benefit events that tell them what all they can take advantage of with this specific organization, and other events where we help them fill out the paper work for certain benefits. It’s our job to find the uniqueness of each person and to bring out the best so they can be their best at work.
Will this affect the organization in a negative way? Employees are investments of your company. You have to be willing to give enough to get anything worthwhile in return. If the benefits are really spectacular, you can even scale back on the salary a little bit. That’s how important benefits are to millennials. You can look outside the box for unique benefit ideas like paying for daycare or having your own daycare in the building. In the end, it won’t hurt your company. If the benefits are good enough, news will travel quickly and millennials will flock to your organization.
This is something of a new development with millennials. They know experience when they see it, and like sponges, they want to take it all in. Millennials are learners. They crave information. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since they were in the beginning of the technology boom. Mentoring is a great way to achieve this.
There is a big disconnect between generations currently. Baby boomers are still working and holding onto their jobs. Some are even re-entering the workforce. They have old school ways of thinking about things. The millennials are coming out of school and just getting started in their careers. They are all wide-eyed and bushytailed, ready to learn, and excited to start their career paths. As diversity professionals this is a great opportunity to set people up for success!
Sometimes employees tend to think about the negative impacts of working with others who are different. We can change that by creating mentoring programs. Setting up a baby boomer with a Millennial, and hosting a course on mentoring can help not only pass down information from the wise, but the baby boomers can learn some new things from the millennials as well. They can help each other.
This is also a great opportunity for the organization. Mentorships are not tremendously expensive, but still a great benefit to highlight during an interview with potential candidates. It shows that the organization cares about the betterment of the employees, and that they understand the millennials thirst for knowledge. It also allows us in the diversity field to do what we do best. Take two people from two diverse backgrounds, and put them together so they can learn from one another.
At the end of the day, organizations can’t keep fighting the millennial generation. Baby boomers are trickling out, and millennials are the next largest generation. There will be a lot of change and adjustment in the future for both the millennials and the corporations that hire them. Diversity leaders must keep up to date on the trends of this generation so we can better understand and converse with them about their needs and what their goals are. We are the key to figuring out the happy medium between the organizations and this crazy diverse generation called the millennials.
The Society for Diversity is the largest organization for diversity and inclusion in the US. With members in 43 states, The Society for Diversity represents a highly specialized association of Fortune 500, nonprofit, government and education professionals throughout the U.S. The Society for Diversity is also the parent company of the Institute for Diversity Certification (IDC), which designates qualification credentials to diversity experts through their professional diversity certification program. By teaching diversity professionals and executives how to drive real-world results, the IDC helps individuals advance their careers as well as have a greater overall impact on diversity & inclusion within their organizations. Together, we can standardize and elevate the field.