Millennial Employees Not All That Different

By Greg Van Ness, CEO and Sean Bhardwaj

 

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Think for a moment about what you want out of your job. For most of us, we want to feel appreciated, listened to and recognized for our good work.

 

We want our job to be meaningful, with the opportunity to learn and advance. We want to be compensated fairly and have a degree of job flexibility. We don’t want our lives to revolve around work. We want work to be just one component of our lives and identity. Most of all, we want to be happy at what we do.

 

These are universal desires of most workers, regardless of age or generation. Yet so much has been written (with abundant hand-wringing) about how millennials (those born between 1980 and 1994) are unrealistically demanding that all these be part of their jobs.

 

Hold on. Every generation before went through some kind of world tumult that impacted the work path. Just in the last 100 years or so, we’ve had the Industrial Revolution, two world wars, the Great Depression, the Great Recession, the Korean and Vietnam wars, the unrest of the 1960s, super inflation of the 1970s and ’80s, and so on. All influenced careers and priorities.

 

Just as with past generations, millennials are having to adjust their work skills and job expectations to fit the times. They live in an era of unprecedented social, technological and economic change. Millennials know that if they don’t adapt quickly, their skill levels will lag and they will fall behind. While each generation has had to adapt to circumstances, the speed of current disruptive change is breathtaking.

 

Companies shouldn’t be surprised when millennials become impatient when a job is unfulfilling and they begin looking elsewhere. If a company refuses to provide workers what they need, what compels them to stay? Loyalty works both ways. If a company isn’t interested in investing in its people, why should its people invest their time in the company?

 

As simple a concept as this seems, most companies don’t get it. A Gallup survey found 70 percent of employees are unhappy at their jobs and don’t like their bosses. We’re pouring billions of dollars into leadership development and it’s not working.

 

Companies consistently voted by employees as the best places to work have one thing in common: Their corporate culture is in harmony with employees’ needs. These companies universally provide employees guidance, growth and learning opportunities; an atmosphere of cooperation; genuine appreciation of their good work and constructive feedback. Studies repeatedly show that investing in these management practices makes a huge impact on employee happiness, loyalty and productivity, yet cost the employers next to nothing.

 

If your business continually loses good employees, the obvious solution is to improve your corporate culture. Fortunately, companies have an abundance of management resources in Ventura County to help.

 

For example, the Workforce Development Board-funded Ventura County Grows Business (VenturaCountyGrowsBusiness.com) provides resources to help businesses grow and thrive. Another resource is the board’s website, WorkforceVenturaCounty.org, which helps to connect companies with resources available through America’s Job Center of California locations in Ventura County, whose staff will help employers recruit and screen qualified job applicants.

 

In today’s environment, those in the workforce are realizing that to be successful, they are ultimately responsible for their own career journey. Millennials just figured it out sooner than previous generations. Yet wouldn’t it be nice if employers stepped up to make that journey a more successful and happy one?

 

It’s not altruistic. The average millennial will hold 15 to 20 jobs in their lifetime, and 60 percent are open to new jobs at any given time. Employee replacement costs present a serious drain on employers. Creating a culture that attracts and retains quality people from all generations isn’t just the right thing to do, it can have a positive effect on a company’s bottom line.

 

Greg Van Ness is CEO of Tolman & Wiker Insurance Services and a Workforce Development Board and Business Services Committee member. Sean Bhardwaj is founder and CEO of Aspire 3 and a former Workforce Development Board Youth Council Committee member.


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