As baby boomers retire, vacant spots will be filled by the next generation of workers – millennials. It is projected that millennials will be 50% of the labor force by 2020 and 75% by 2025. This influx of millennials presents many challenges to school, city and county employers.
- According to GALLUP, only 6% of Superintendents think their district understands the millennials’ needs.
- The perception that local governmental organizations are “slow, bureaucratic and behind the technology curve” is unappealing to millennials who like quick results and meaningful work.
- A U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation study released in January 2016 that found only 2% of millennials planned on working in government jobs.
As the largest generation in U.S. history (92 million millennials vs. 77 million baby boomers), millennials are tech-savvy, socially resourceful, open to change, and altruistic. They make great contributions to the workplace including technology, questioning the status quo, and a drive to make a difference.
Attract and Retain
This generation, unlike any other, is willing and sometimes eager to have several different employers throughout their career. According to a Deloitte study, 25% of millennials would quit their jobs within the next year if given the chance and 60% wish to leave their jobs by 2020. Knowing this, school, city, and county employers may need to make some changes to how they attract and retain millennials workers by looking at what they value.
What do millennials value?
Technology – It is no surprise that millennials favor electronic communication over face to face communication since they have grown up in the digital world. They are used to having instant access to information at all times. Technology for them is not simply a tool for getting things done but rather the basis for conducting their lives.
59% of millennials said technology was important to them when considering a job. School, city, and county employers must ensure that they are offering current state of the art technology and software to improve efficiency. Get rid of ‘old school’ technology tools and slow internet speeds. Allow employees free reign over the internet instead of blocking, limiting, or discouraging signing into social sites. Providing these social tools will enable millennials to instantly connect, engage, and collaborate with others while boosting their productivity.
Work Culture – A positive work culture is very important for millennials. Millennials want their job/work to serve a purpose - one that will help to make the world a better place – which fits right into what school and other local governmental employers strive to accomplish. School, city, and county employers can:
- Cultivate a company culture that is hard to leave. Some schools, cities and counties are transitioning to a strengths-based culture, where weaknesses are minimized and strengths are maximized. They have created a culture dedicated to fostering authentic personal relationships, developing talent, and focusing on a cause. Employees feel valued because their diversity is celebrated, their strengths are valued, and they feel supported. This leads to an increase in employee loyalty.
- Establish shared visions and goals. Millennials want to work in a setting with a clear, shared vision including measurable and specific goals. They want to be a part of creating and owning the vision. Make millennials feel valued by welcoming their suggestions and asking for input about workplace conditions or purchasing decisions.
- Evaluate your current leadership styles. Are they outdated? Millennials don’t want bosses, they want mentors and coaches. Organizations have moved away from an annual review and are focused on having regular, in-depth, honest feedback and ongoing conversations. School, city, and county administrators may also want to change the way that they provide feedback. Instead of purely focusing on what’s wrong/needs improvement, they have found that it’s also important to discuss and highlight what has worked and gone well. Providing feedback and having ongoing conversations will help millennials to continue to contribute to the success of your organization.
Career Development Opportunities – Millennials want to constantly grow and learn new skills. According to a recent study from Multiple Generations @ Work, 91% of millennials will stay at a job for less than three years. They want a job with purpose. If they don’t feel engaged or valued, or if they feel stuck, they will not hesitate to leave.
Career development dovetails with creating a good work culture. Even if your organization lacks a traditional career ladder, you can engage employees to develop their careers. Successful public sector employers have found that engaging with employees and showing concern about their growth and long-term success goes a long way with millennials. Here are a few tips that may help:
- Create working environments that support day-to-day collaboration and allow employees to use their connectedness to enrich their work and share ideas.
- Encourage millennials to seek mentorship and expand their professional networks.
- Lack of leadership opportunities can weaken a millennial’s allegiance and commitment to your organization.
- Start to emphasize performance- or achievement-based rewards instead of rewarding seniority.
Workplace Wellness Programs – Millennials value working in an environment that promotes health and encourages them to be active. One way to keep millennials happy is incorporating wellness plans including features such as:
- Conducting wellness activities such as contests and events
- Offering healthy vending machine options
- Conducting annual biometric screenings
- Offering a subsidized gym membership
- Providing onsite clinics for wellness care
Successful and strong school, city and county employers continue to adjust and refine their retention and engagement strategies to encompass all workforce generations. Download this infographic to learn more about how you can manage a multi-generational workplace.