Integrating Millennials into the Manufacturing Workforce
Although there are no precise dates for when the Millennial Generation starts or ends, generally they were born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s to early 2000s. Also known as Generation Y, this cohort shares some similarities regardless of their region and socioeconomic conditions. When it comes to attracting, hiring, and retaining Millennials, there are some important factors to consider that set them apart from their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts.
Generally speaking, this generation is:
- Familiar and comfortable with digital technology, including communication and media
- Civic-minded and liberal when it comes to politics and economics, with an emphasis on political correctness
- Motivated by meaningful work, idealistic desire to help others and make a difference
- Disinterested in traditional organizational structure, but crave autonomy and the ability to be creative in their duties
- Motivated by balance between work and personal life (task oriented, not time oriented)
- Comfortable working remotely as well as nights and weekends to get a job done as long as they have time to rest after work
- Collaborative and interested in immediate feedback from a manager they regard as a mentor
- Ambitious, but more loyal to people and ideals than organizations; comfortable with career changes to find the right fit
- Not satisfied knowing “what”; they also want to know why and having this knowledge makes them want to work harder
The general takeaway is that Millennials behave differently and care about different things than older generations, and therefore have different needs for staying engaged at work. They care more about office culture than previous generations and benefit from training and coaching for their professional development. They want to know that their employer cares about more than just the bottom line and profitability; there needs to be an underlying mission and clearly defined values.
A client of goBRANDgo! was wanting to gain a better understanding of how to attract and retain Millennials to their organization. “They realized that they needed help figuring out how to define their values and express them in a way that would appeal to millennials,” Rachel Winkel, Strategy Director, says. “Millennials make up such a large part of the workforce now that it’s best to address these concerns and develop a strategy for integrating younger workers that benefits everyone.”
We started by asking the client to define their values by answering two questions:
- What are the things that you value most?
- What has historically mattered most to you?
Then, we asked them to poll their employees about what values matter most to them and measure them on how well they live up to these values. Finally, once their values were defined, we asked them to determine how, as a company, they could live out those values.
For example, if one of your values is that you want employees to feel empowered and autonomous, then how will you systematically enable them to make decisions? If offering a healthy work/life balance to your employees is important, how does that translate into an employee policy? “Millennials appreciate a company that can walk the talk, so you should have examples of how your values are demonstrated in day-to-day life,” Winkel says.
Once your values are determined and you’ve created a culture that aligns with them, don’t be afraid to communicate this in your job listings. Millennials will be looking for positions that offer them the things they value most: autonomy, healthy work/life balance, purpose-driven work, etc. Be sure to mention these things when you post jobs, and be prepared to share examples of your values in action during interviews.
Steps to Becoming a Values-Driven Organization
- Determine what matters most to you.
- Ask your employees how well you’re doing at living out these values from the top down.
- Find ways to incorporate your values into your culture and policy; be purposeful about creating a workplace culture that shows these values in action.
- Talk about your values, and share your culture with potential employees as you search for candidates