The oldest of the Millennials is 30 now, and are beginning to enter middle management and/or professional positions. As the Millennials grow in prominence and influence in the workforce, leading them will require new and adapted strategies to harness their influence and talents.
Millennials want to join a crusade, not a company. They view organizational structure as a tapestry, not a hierarchy. Traditionally, employees asked “What role do I fulfill as I work in this company?” Millennials ask, “What role will the company play in my life story?” If the organization is willing to invest into their life story, then dedication to that company will follow. Dedication and engagement is earned, not a given.
Millennials may forego a higher salary to participate in an organization or endeavour that will be meaningful to them. After all, their social network will bail them out even if they do need help. They won’t stay a at a job for monetary reasons only. Values, history and mission are important to the Millennials. They are more than just words on a page. If they are truly lived, and are congruent with the person, it will make a difference.
Bottom line: Organizations that do not provide meaningful experiences to their Millennial employees will lose them. Organizations that provide those at their organization, or who support their employees to find them elsewhere (ie. volunteer opportunities), will be able to retain Millennials.
Over the next while I will be posting excerpts of a presentation on Millennials by David Burkus and myself at the April 2011 Human Resources Institute of Alberta (HRIA) Conference in Edmonton, Alberta.
Burkus, D. (2010). Developing the next generation of leaders: How to engage Millennials in the workplace. Leadership Advance Online, 14. Download here.