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  • Sher Lynn

Millennials Are Here. Why Should Organizations Care?

Why should I care about Millennials in business?

The following emerging trends build a convincing case for creating a business-friendly intergenerational workforce. In light of the emerging trends, where there is intergenerational collaboration, there is potential conflict. It has manifested in the way people approach their life, work, how they communicate, and how they perform in the workplace.

It’s really an invasion that has taken many by surprise. The birth of seventy-eight million babies is enormous, but it did take place over almost two decades. Because of that, many of us did not notice the impact. But now they are here. Over 70 percent of Millennials have already entered the workforce, and the remainder are not far behind. They are bringing changes wherever they are found. Their influence will continue to grow and become more persuasive.

I believe for the most part that this generation will become one of the greatest generations in American history. Much of the research conducted, including interviews and surveys with members of older generations, clearly point in that direction. I am convinced this generation will make its mark. The question for us, then, is not one of the Millennials' impact on our nation and workplace.

Gen Xers Don’t Want to Play Referee

Gen X has spent a lifetime at jobs overshadowed by Baby Boomers and Millennials. They are not interested in trusting an organization for their future success based on what they witnessed happening to their parents.

Here are the top 5 reasons Gen Xers may not want the role of leading Millennials:

1. They don't trust corporations. Gen X workers are uncomfortable with corporate life for several reasons: First, as teens they witnessed the Baby Boomers getting laid off in their 40s; second, that senior generation is now pushing back retirement for financial reasons, resulting in Gen X employees not getting the promotions they thought they would; and third, Millennials are getting higher salaries and faster promotions because of their technology skills.

2. They want to become their own bosses. Forget Millennials being tagged as the most entrepreneurial age. In actuality, Gen X is the most ambitious in starting new businesses. According to a study conducted by The Center for Work-Life Policy, nearly 40 percent of Gen X men and 25 percent of Gen X women reported that they want to eventually become entrepreneurs.

3. They're being poached. By this time in their professional lives, Gen X workers are at the top of their games; hence, they're more susceptible to poaching from recruiters and former managers, compared to those in other generations.

4. They need fulfillment. By now, Gen X has been working most of their lives and have been overshadowed by Baby Boomers and Millennials. Combine this with their approaching midlife, and Gen X workers feel it's time to find something more meaningful and fulfilling.

5. They're starting families later. According to a study by the Center for Work-Life Policy, Gen X has pushed back starting families until their mid 30s to 40s. The study reported that 43 percent of Gen X women and 32 percent of Gen X men have not started having a family, but may be planning to later.

Millennials Are Here, But Are They Ready to Lead?

Organizations are concerned about the looming Baby Boomer retirement surge and the resulting urgent need to fill critical leadership roles. The pool of knowledge-workers ranging from 35 years-old to 65-year-olds is rapidly shrinking. The unemployment rate is less than 5 percent, and we can only expect it to go lower. Roughly 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65 today and about 10,000 more will cross that threshold every day for the next 12 years.

This is concerning for employers who are already behind in the search for top talent. With knowledge-workers retiring and taking their knowledge capital with them, are Gen Xers prepared to coach and train Millennials in time?

Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, and they will grow by 30% over the next 5 years. This is an enormous shift that is already underway. 50% of Millennials are already in leadership positions, and 41% have four or more direct reports.

Leading before they’re ready. 64% of current Millennial leaders felt “unprepared” when assuming their leadership role. Even after spending time as leaders, they continued to report difficulties managing difficult people and resolving conflict.

They want training, on their terms. Millennials consistently rate leadership development among the most important employer benefits, but they are a tough audience. Having grown up with the Internet, they are accustomed to highly individualized, on-demand content. They also place an extremely high value on “experiences." According to many leaders surveyed, they feel Millennials are too young and inexperienced to fill the leadership gaps without hands-on training. However, some organizations, such as IBM, are adding special programs for their middle-management employees and providing them more rewards to retain key talent.

Changing Leadership Skills

The eldest of Gen Xers have been in the workforce for at least 15 to 20 years and their younger cohort are now beginning to move into leadership roles within their chosen field. Many early Gen Xers and Millennials are now leading coworkers who are 10 to 20 years older than they are. Some Gen Xers have been promoted so rapidly or have had so little mentoring that they have never been taught how to be an effective leader!

Many others need to learn interpersonal and communication skills to effectively lead, as well as how to effectively work with corporate politics and get things done through others by delegating. There is a vast difference between generations regarding management skills and competencies.

Organizations must plan ahead for a fundamental change in leadership and management practices, especially as Baby Boomer leaders are being replaced by Gen Xers and Millennials.

Retention Challenges

What are the costs associated with hiring and replacing key talent? According to research by T&D magazine, in the United States the cost for replacing an employee averages $17,000. Workers making more than $60,000 per year will cost organizations more than $38,000 to replace.

Replacing experienced employees includes intangible costs such as loss of “corporate or industry knowledge” when employees walk out the door. Another intangible cost associated when workers leave includes adding more work to existing employees, thus affecting their morale, wellness, and ultimately productivity. Many organizations are struggling to keep pace with the needs of a generationally diverse workforce.

In today’s workplace, younger workers want a more collaborative work environment, less boring work, and more life-work balance. An online survey of 320 graduates by Experience, Inc., found an average tenure of a Millennial is 1.6 years at their first full-time job, but more than 36 percent stayed less than a year.

Could this be the reason we are seeing a spike in generational conflict? Different experiences can create a great divide between the generation that grew up with technology and is easily assimilating and customizing their digital world, and the generations that are “playing catch up.” Tech savvy Millennials, expect the latest technology and interactive media. This has led many young people to develop new skills, assumptions, and expectations about their employers.

These questions are for those of us WHO ARE NOT Millennials.

  • How will you receive them?

  • How will you channel their ambitions and impatience?

  • How will you work with them in greater service and collaboration?

  • What will you do when they insist that organizations, schools, etc. change and change immediately?

Are you ready for Millennials? You better be ready. They are already here!

Sherri Elliott-Yeary, CEO of Generational Guru is an award-winning speaker, professional business consultant, and published author who energetically engages international audiences with her practical strategies for attracting, growing, and retaining top talent and loyal customers from every generation. Sherri brings over twenty years of hands-on experience to support you in designing generational solutions that address:

  • Cross-Generational Leadership Challenges

  • Generational Blind Spots in Sales

  • Effective Recruitment and Retention

  • Marketing to Millennials

For more information, please contact Sherri via email at or text/call her at 469-971-3663.

#Millennials #Intheworkplace #leadership

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