Millennials bring unique mindset to workplace

August 22, 2010 | By Katy Piotrowski

After graduating from college (years ago!), I calculated how much I'd need to earn to cover the cost of a studio apartment and weekly supplies of peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

When I was offered a position, I negotiated diligently to meet my budget and succeeded. I was in the door and pretty pleased with myself.

Today's new generation of workers, sometimes referred to as Millennials (beginning careers at the turn of the century) would scoff at my fresh grad approach.

One mom described her son's experience: He set his sights on a long-term partnership with a solid employer, graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA and lined up interviews with a number of top-notch companies.

He landed challenging responsibilities and motivating pay, allowing him to buy a new car and home shortly after starting work. He's had two promotions in the past two years and is now working on his third.

For those of us with a pull-yourself-up-from-your-fraying-bootstraps background, understanding this mindset can be a challenge. But according to author Neil Howe, author of Millennials in the Workplace, small changes in strategy can make attracting and working with the new generation of workers a win-win:

  • Recruit early ... and involve the parents. Three out of four of today's graduates will have completed an internship, and a third of those students will start their careers with their host company. Connect with colleges early and create communication materials that students can also share with their parents.
  • Provide plenty of feedback. Millennials like hard work and want to be recognized frequently for it. Businesses with productive millennial-worker relationships have learned that weekly meetings - and daily informal chats - keep these employees happiest and most productive.
  • Be community-minded. Seventy percent in this work force are driven to help others in need. Showing that your company cares positions you favorably.
  • Think, and show, long-term fit. Millennials seek security and growth.
  • Line out career path options and connect them with mentors to help pave their way.

Then look forward to benefiting from the output of a group that has been described as "sociable, friendly and confident." 


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