Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Middle-aged Millennials: Recruiting and retaining an experienced generation


Many Millennials are now more than a decade into their careers. Although the bookend birth years of the generation vary depending on the researcher and/or media outlet, 1980 to 1994 is the block we use at Tribe to define the Millennial generation. That means the first Millennials are turning 38 this year.

They’re no longer those fresh college grads hoping to get a foot in the door.  They’ve done stuff. They know things. They’ve maybe even learned how to manage others. They’re valuable employees, not just for their potential but for their experience.

They’re not kids anymore, and they’re not kidding around about what they have to offer. So what does your company have to offer them?

This is a good time to reexamine your employer brand and your employee value proposition. Since Millennial employees, especially those in the technology field, have plenty of job options, it’s worth investing time and money into making your company more competitive in the talent market.

What’s good for Millennials is often good for other generations too. For instance, Millennials value flexibility in terms of when and where they work. So do many Gen X and Boomer employees, whether they’re dealing with growing kids or aging parents or just the desire for work to accommodate the demands of their personal lives.

However, the most important element of the EVP for Millennials is the work they’re getting to do. Sure, they expect work-life balance and constant feedback and an ethical organization. As they begin having kids, they value solid benefits and competitive salaries even more than when they were younger. And they’re happy to have any extra perks, from a great coffee bar to mobile dental care that show s up on-site. But they care more about the work they’re doing and why.

The employer brand helps communicate that EVP, and that communication begins with recruitment. How are you building that brand with potential job candidates? What are you sharing about what it’s like to work for your company? Should they expect to be challenged with opportunities to grow their careers? Given the responsibility to run some projects of their own? Will they able to collaborate with other talented people? Will they work they do be recognized for contributing to the overall success of the company? And is the vision of this company something that makes them excited to get to work every day?

In terms of retention, it’s helpful to tell the stories of employees’ and their individual efforts. For instance, you might do a regular feature on your intranet or in your internal magazine or newsletter that interviews employees who are highly engaged in their work and excited about how it contributes to the company goals and vision. Or you can tell those stories through video or podcasts. Giving those concrete examples of real people thriving in their jobs is one of the best ways you can promote your employer brand.

Interested in defining your employer brand or EVP? Tribe can help.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Will Direct Mail Work On Millennials? The USPS Says So

The USPS is making a marketing push to convince advertisers that Millennials will respond to direct mail. Will they?

The first voice I hear in my head, in response to that question, is our son’s. He is very quick to point out that you can’t make gross generalizations about an entire generation and that people, regardless of their generation, must be seen as individuals. I’ve heard Millennial employees say the same.

Yeah, yeah, of course. But still, the world that surrounds any generation during their growing up and early adult years will have an impact on forming them as individuals. Boomers didn’t grow up with iPhones — or even the internet. Millennials are different in their experiences of communication.

The second voice I hear is that of my inner creative director. Too often, in my opinion, communicators embrace or eliminate a channel based on past success or the lack thereof. But you can’t dismiss television advertising as ineffective if you’ve only run bad TV spots. You can’t assume an employee magazine won’t work in your company if the ones you’ve done before were poorly written and badly designed.

It’s a matter of content. If you do beautifully designed and smartly written direct mail that engages Millennials on a topic that’s relevant to them, then sure, direct mail could be an excellent channel.

However, Millennials as a group tend to have an ability to sniff out anything inauthentic. For instance, our high-school junior (same son) has been getting a flood of direct mail from colleges in the past year or so. It took him about five minutes to figure out that the same direct mail agency was writing most of them, with similar schticks repeated for college after college.

Now even the direct mail from Harvard and Stanford lies unopened on the kitchen counter. The good news, for the post office,  perhaps, is that he doesn’t click on a lot of their digital ads either. He reads a lot online about the colleges he’s interested in, but seems to skip anything he views as marketing.

When he was about four, he was gazing out the window on a car trip and remarked, “Outdoor advertising doesn’t work for me.” (Yes, he said outdoor advertising instead of billboards because he’s the child of ad people.) I asked him why not and he shrugged. “I can’t read,” he said.

Interested in improving the content in your communication channels? Tribe can help.

 

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Millennials hate the word Millennials — and now they hate Simon Sinek too

If you want to make someone bristle, pick anyone in their early 30s or younger and call them a Millennial. We Boomers don’t seem to have a big issue with our label, and I haven’t heard many Gen Xers complain, but there’s a widespread and deep frustration shared by Millennial employees when all 75 Million of them are lumped into one generic category.

A recent video of Simon Sinek has many of them understandably riled. In his talk on Millennials in the workplace, he seeks to answer what he calls the Millennial Question.

The reason Simon Sinek really struck a nerve is that his generalization is so negative. He doesn’t hold back in his portrayal of Millennial employees as the unfortunate result of poor parenting, social media, impatience and environment. He refers to their reputation for feeling entitled to things they haven’t worked for. (Nota bene: Entitlement is one of those words that is pretty much guaranteed to make Millennials flinch and/or grind their teeth.)

He does say it isn’t Millennials fault. If you keep watching past the part where he lists everything that’s wrong with Millennials, he makes some great points about organizational and behavioral changes that could benefit all of us, not just Millennials. But he’s certainly not making a case for Millennials being the best thing ever to happen to the workplace.

In the Huffington Post, Jared Buckley makes an argument for why Simon Sinek is wrong. Buckley resists the notion that one can generalize about an entire generation. He also suggests that the Millennial Question can best be answered by asking more specific questions that relate to your desired outcome. Do you want to attract more Millennials to your company? Do you want to help them develop their careers faster? Are you trying to understand how they like to work?

In some sense, answering the Millennial Question is a moot point. From technology to manufacturing to the service industry, they’re carrying a tremendous share of our collective workload. They’re filling the ranks of middle management. They’re starting their own companies in record numbers. One can’t dismiss the entire generation as a bunch of entry-level workers with no experience to offer.

Perhaps the issues Sinek cites are less about a generation and more about a life stage. Complaining about the follies of youth is not a new thing. When the Boomers were coming of age, their elders complained about “kids these days.” Even the ancient Greeks griped about the young ones. Socrates wrote, “Children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, disrespect their elders, and love talking instead of exercise.”

Millennials are steadily aging out of one life stage and into another. Maybe it’s time to start complaining about the next generation.

Interested in better communication with the Millennials in your company? Tribe can help.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Building Leadership at All Levels

Does your company encourage leadership at every level in the organization? In some ways, this seems an oxymoron. If everyone gets to be a chief, who will be the Indians?

But leadership can be seen as a sense of responsibility for moving things forward. Leading, as opposed to following, may not have anything to do with one person bossing a group of people around.

One crucial aspect of leadership is this quality of taking the lead — not of people, necessarily, but in making things happen. Some companies think of this in terms of generating ideas, and they go so far as to call these people innovators or catalysts or even the big-company lingo for entrepreneurs: intrapreneurs.

A spirit of entrepreneurship is difficult to achieve in most large companies. Some corporations like to boast they have the structure and resources of a large company, yet are as nimble and innovative as a startup. Sounds good, but in reality, that’s tricky.

To promote this type of leadership, a company has to be able to give employees a large degree of autonomy. In many large company cultures, each level hesitates to make a move without the level above them — not only to tell them how to do it, but whether or not it’s okay to do it.

Perhaps a more attainable goal is to nourish a sense of leadership in one’s own work. To encourage employees to approach their own jobs as entrepreneurs. To figure something out and propose a solution, rather than waiting to be told what to do.

From the C-suite to the frontline, the people doing the work are best equipped to create new solutions. The drive-thru attendant might see a better way to organize condiments; the salespeople might discover a faster method of processing returns; the receptionist might suggest rearranging the furniture, after noticing that waiting visitors are seated where they look straight at the break room garbage.

How do you get employees at all levels to take the lead? It starts with the C-level folks demonstrating that they respect employees — especially the oft-ignored frontline people — and value their input. Then you open channels of two-way communication so employees can share their ideas with management. You demonstrate that direct managers — and those in the C-suite — are listening. And you showcase the results of this type of leadership.

That all starts with the right internal communications. Need help with that? Tribe‘s ready when you are.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Forget Millennials: It’s Time to Prepare for Gen Z Employees

Now that Millennials are hitting their 30s, it’s time to think about the generation that’s right on their heels. Generation Z, born between 1995 and 2002, is beginning to fill our entry level positions.

Competition for Gen Z employees will be fierce. As Gen Y continues to move up the org chart, there will be smaller numbers of Gen Z to replace them.

It’s time to prepare your company to recruit and retain Gen Z. While many workplaces are still adapting to accommodate Gen Y, the oldest among those employees are in their mid-30s. Rather than being entry-level employees, many of these Millennials are now somebody’s boss.

Gen Z employees have never lived in a world without the Internet. Technology is so indigenous to their life, it’s like breathing air to them. They don’t even notice it’s there, unless it’s not.

Here’s what us Boomers may find counterintuitive about Gen Z and technology. We came of age in a world where Joni Mitchell lamented that they’d “paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” While we grew up thinking of technology as cold and inhuman, Gen Z finds this attitude (to use a phrase Gen Z would use only ironically) completely wack.

Gen Z uses technology to express their humanness. They depend on technology to build relationships, to collaborate, and to bring creative ideas to life. They use technology to be continuously learning and to find solutions to problems.

 All of the above are qualities of highly engaged employees. If one of the key roles of internal communications is to reduce barriers to employee effectiveness, then we better get ready to provide Gen Z with all the technology tools and channels they could possibly want.

Gen Z is ready to change the world. And their tool of choice in technology. When Tribe interviewed Gen Z kids in 2010, they were extremely confident in their abilities to solve problems of both the marketplace and the planet.

“Technology will make it much easier,” said a 14-year-old respondent who’s now in college at University of Pennsylvania. “I think technology will advance enough that environmental issues will be something that can be solved. Like energy needs can be solved. We’ll have easy ways to make energy. Then we can move on to things like world hunger.”

By all means, let’s get them going on those issues. Interested in increasing your company’s strength in attracting and keeping Gen Z employees? Tribe can help.

Nick Miller

Internal Communications: The 9 to 5 and what’s next

HiRes

Back in the early 1900s, Economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that by 2030, most of the workforce would be clocking less than 15 hours a week. We are still a long way from such efficient standards, but 100 years ago, the 9 to 5 was still a relatively fresh concept. The notion of this schedule in the American workplace wouldn’t become the standard until the unprecedented effects of Henry Ford’s assembly line manufacturing and FDR’s New Deal had reached every corner of the country, with much of the globe following suit.

Keynes must have foreseen the affects of globalization, Millennials and an increasingly socially progressive society. The world is smaller; videoconferencing has changed the meaning of a centralized workforce; freelancing and self-employment are on the rise, as is mandatory vacation and maternity/paternity leave. Millennials are demanding more flexible work schedules and research on sleep and the difference between early- and late-risers is justifying their cause. How can a company communicate effectively with all these factors considered? What happened to the days of every employee at his or her desk by 9 am?

The concept of 9 to 5, a defining corporate characteristic that every single person living today has known since birth, is actually just a stop on the highly fluid track of industrial development. Internal communications might be viewed with the same big-picture perspective, evolving to match the needs of the times. New channels and technologies will be vetted for usefulness and their executions measured in order to draw key insights. No one wants to be the company known for ignoring the next big thing (see: Kodak).

The constant need to evolve applies to messaging as well. Millennial priorities are different from that of the generations before them, and the generations to follow will define their own. It would have seemed silly to boast about efforts to be more environmentally responsible as a corporation or encourage employees to exercise through fitness competitions only a couple decades ago. These are not efforts that are obviously connected to an increase in productivity, but through trial, error and due diligence, companies all over the world are unlocking the cheat codes to efficient communications and an engaged workforce. In a universe like our own where everything is in a constant state of fluidity, it would make sense that your communications would be as well.

Are you interested in evolving your communications? Tribe can help.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Millennials: Is It a Generation Thing or Just a Life Stage?

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAfCAAAAJGMyOWIwNDNlLTQ0ZjgtNGU0Mi1iZTAxLTJkZDMyOTgzN2E2MQ“Kids these days.” It’s not a new complaint. Millennials just happen to be the group we’re currently calling kids.

Even Socrates piled on. As quoted by Brian O’Malley in a great Forbes post, the father of Western philosophy said: “Children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, disrespect their elders, and love talking instead of exercise.”

Sounds familiar, right? O’Malley goes on to ask some interesting questions, among them: “Are millennials really that different from previous generations, or are we just describing young adults? As Patrick Wright, business professor at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina said, ‘From my standpoint, it’s not a generational thing. It’s actually a stage of life issue.'”

Some like to say Millennials are the worst workers in the history of the world  O’Malley confronts this common sentiment with data and insights that are welcome confirmation for those of us who are fans of this generation’s contributions in the workplace.

“Rather than typecasting millennials as unmotivated, lazy, or disloyal, it’s crucial to look at the larger macro trends in play. Companies used to invest significant amounts of time training new employees. It made sense, because the expectation was that these employees would stick around for decades. Investing in new blood was a long-term bet that paid off over time.”

Millennial job hopping is not necessarily a symptom of short attention spans. The pay off for loyalty to one company “began to change in the 1980s, when ‘you started to see healthy firms laying off workers, mainly for shareholder value,’ as well as “cuts in employee benefits—401(k)s instead of defined benefit pensions, and health care costs being pushed on to employees.”

Data frames this theory in a larger context:

  • “Jobs switching is a broader trend. In a recent study, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that Baby Boomers changed jobs just as frequently, holding on average of 11.7 different jobs between the ages of 18-48. Most of the bouncing around happened when they were young—from the ages 18 to 24.
  • Millennials are more competitive than we give them credit. 59% said competition is “what gets them up in the morning,” compared with 50% of baby-boomers. Hardly the generation of slackers they’re cut out to be,69% of millennials see themselves in managerial roles in 10 years.
  • Millennials are more likely to comply with authority than their parents’ generation. 41% of millennials agreewith the statement, “Employees should do what their manager tells them, even when they can’t see the reason for it,” while only 30% of Boomers and Gen Xers agree.
  • Millennials are well prepared. Almost 70 percent of managers say that their young employees are equipped with skills that prior generations are not, around 82 percent are impressed with their tech savvy. Around 60 percent of managers say that the generation is full of quick learners.
  • Millennials are the best-educated generation. The White House Council of Economic Advisorsstates that in 2013, 47% of 25 to 34 year-olds had attained some kind of degree after high school, while graduate school enrollment saw a 35% jump between 1995 and 2010.

Beyond compensation and opportunity, millennials are looking for a sense of purpose in the workplace. When they can’t find it, the new generation is taking matters into its own hands. A further study by Elance-oDesk—now Upwork—claims that79% of millennials would consider the opportunity to work for themselves. Meanwhile, Babson College’s 2014 Global Entrepreneurship report claims that in 2014, 18% of Americans between 25 and 34 were either running or starting new businesses.”

Interested in improving your retention of Millennials? Tribe can help.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

The Middle-Aged Millennials: Recruiting and Retaining These Mid-Career Professionals

HiResMany Millennials are now more than a decade into their careers. Although the bookend birth years of the generation vary depending on the researcher and/or media outlet, 1980 to 1994 is the block we use at Tribe to define the Millennial generation. That means the first Millennials are now 36.

They’re no longer those fresh college grads expecting an entry-level CEO position. They’ve done stuff. They know things. They’ve maybe even learned how to manage others. They’re valuable employees, not just for their potential but for their experience.

Yet employers are still flummoxed by this generation. How to recruit them and how to retain them remain issues that companies struggle to solve. Now that they’re the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, employers can no longer reduce the issue to throwing up their hands and exclaiming, “These darn kids these days!”

They’re not kids anymore, and they’re not kidding around about what they have to offer. So what does your company have to offer them?

This is a good time to reexamine your employer brand and your employee value proposition. Since Millennial employees (as well as their older colleagues, come to think of it) have more job options than any of us did during the recession, it’s worth investing time and money into making your company more competitive in the talent market.

What’s good for Millennials is often good for other generations too. For instance, Millennials value flexibility in terms of when and where they work. So do many Gen X and Boomer employees, whether they’re dealing with growing kids or aging parents or just the desire for work to accommodate the demands of their personal lives.

However, the most important element of the EVP for Millennials is the work itself. Sure, they expect work-life balance and constant feedback and an ethical organization. They appreciate being able to bring their dogs to the office and having a break room fridge stocked with energy drinks.

But the reason they’re drawn to one organization over another, and the reason they will stay or go, is the work they’re getting to do. Are they being challenged with opportunities to grow their careers? Are they given responsibility to run some projects of their own? Are they able to collaborate with other talented people? Do they see the work they’re doing being recognized for contributing to the overall success of the company? And is the vision of this company something that makes them excited to get to work every day?

Interested in defining your employer brand or EVP? Tribe can help.

 

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

To Attract And Retain Millennials, Share The Company Vision

At Tribe, we like to say our highest goal is to help align employees with the vision of their company. People like to feel they’re part of something bigger, and they particularly like knowing that their day-to-day work contributes to the company’s overall success. And from a productivity perspective, there’s not much better than having everyone moving things ahead in the same direction every day.

With Millennials, this is even more important. A Deloitte study found that 60 percent of Millennials cite the company’s purpose as a reason for choosing to work for their current employer. If you look only at those Millennials who are most connected on social media, that number rises to 77 percent.

So how do you do that? The same study found that 75 percent of Millennials believe that companies are more focused on their own agendas than on the good of society. And of course, to stay in business, all companies necessarily must concern themselves with turning a profit.

The sweet spot is when a company manages to combine good business with doing good. Sustainability is a great example of this win-win scenario. As the company reduces energy usage, for instance, they’re cutting costs as well as benefiting the environment.

Those in Gen Z, the generation following Millennials, have an expectation of this win-win being relatively simple. In Tribe’s research, many of these young people mentioned in interview sessions that they expected to solve world problems their parents had not made much progress with. They cited their more global views and continuous improvement in technology as two advantages to finding those solutions.

As both Millennials and Gen Z fill more and more of our leadership positions, they’ll begin to mold the way their companies present themselves in the world. We’re likely to see a greater focus on company vision that serves the greater good in addtion to monetary business goals.  For them, this could be business as usual.

Interested in recruiting and retaining these new generations? Tribe can help.

Steve Baskin

TRIBE TRIVIA: The difference in importance of benefits between Millennials and Gen X

Question: If 35 percent of both Millennials and Gen X employees say salary is the most important consideration in deciding to accept a job, do they also care equally about benefits?

Answer: No, perhaps because Gen X employees are more likely to have families. While benefits like healthcare and a 401K were a top consideration for 39 pecent of Gen X respondents in Tribe’s national employee survey, only 23 percent of Millennials ranked benefits as the most important factor.

For more information on this study, see Tribe’s white papers and other resources on the expertise page of tribeinc.com, or shoot me an email.