Hiring the Next Generation – Can you handle it?
Do you feel like hiring the next generation of workers is more complicated or difficult than workers of the past? As a company that focuses on getting the next generation matched with work, we know a thing or two about who they are and how they want to approach work. Millennials, Gen Z, and the little Gen Alpha aren’t the lazy, entitled, good-for-nothings that their grandparents in the media like to paint them as. (Sorry, Boomers, did we hit a nerve there?) The pay-per-click bloggers and traditional media gatekeepers get a bang for their buck shouting at young adults. But, none of it adds up to a thimbleful of truth. As the next premier service of the working world, we hope you heed our words of experienced wisdom and stop telling the kids to get off your lawn.
Work ethic or the lack thereof is not correlated with age. As someone who hired the full spectrum of jobs and people – I know that it is not true or fair to label an entire generation. In fact, Millennials and younger have a work ethic that is lit on fire when they have a personal connection with the work they do. Hiring the next generation will require employers to figure out how to co-create that purpose with their workers.
Use Short Attention Spans for Good
Yes, young workers should expect salary increases as they develop their careers. Yes, they should expect they will grow and develop. We all deserve to become more than we are today. It’s your job as the older, more experienced generation to let them take on what they think they can handle and encourage them (not deride them) to continue bettering their skills and experience. Stop putting emphasis on job titles and hierarchy. No one cares about the gold embossed business card.
Digital-native generations process information five times faster than previous generations. Because they have such ease with technology, they can move laterally with impressive speed. Take advantage of this ability and don’t pigeon hole younger workers. Just about the time they are trained in their jobs, they’re ready for new information. It’s an excellent opportunity for cross-training, breaking down silos, and creating a more open corporate culture. Be creative and use this as the skill that it is.
Purpose Over Personality
When they show you where their limits are, meet them there and mentor them. Again, climbing the corporate ladder is not a selling point. The idea that they all want to be a CEO isn’t true and doesn’t provide a purpose for them. Their generation is the first to grow up in the information age. Information slams into them minute by minute. They aren’t seeking it out in the library. It comes from across oceans and continents and perspectives. They have read so many stories about so many different lifestyles from around the world. Their perspective is: “Look at all these great examples! I have so many options to choose from!” That’s different than saying, “I’m a spoiled brat and think I deserve the world – I’m entitled to everything!” Knowing the difference is key to relating to the younger working generation.
Understanding the attributes of a job and how to best match it with the person is the key ingredient when hiring the next generation. Young workers like the energy, thrill, and pressure of projects that expand their potential. They aren’t content to be a round peg in a square hole just to earn a paycheck. They have too many options to earn cash and refuse to confine themselves to what doesn’t feel right or reward them in a meaningful way. They have the ability to build side hustles, micro businesses, and join the gig economy. Working for an employer who doesn’t let them explore job fit and give them a chance at success or contribution on their terms just isn’t appealing. If they’re bored, put them to work doing something that matters. Or they’ll walk.
As for being flaky and non-committal, they can be. But have you ever considered why beyond, “they’re just a bunch of lazy so-and-so’s”?When Boomers lost pensions and reliability from their employers, the Gen X kids felt that impact. We watched our parents struggle through mergers and acquisitions in the 80s and 90s. Gen Xers watched their parents get laid off work after 20 or more years of loyal service. That experience solidified the idea that work is about hustle and not to expect employers to protect their jobs. Trust is no longer an expectation for any worker.
These generations are the first to live in a globally connected, digital era. This has inspired many to discover the world and its options before they commit. And, why shouldn’t they? They have no guarantee of stability anyway. It isn’t because they are irresponsible. It’s because they live with the consequences of business decisions they have no control over. Therefore, if it doesn’t feel right in the first 60 days – get the heck out of there. If it doesn’t feel right during the interview process – ghost it. They don’t owe you an explanation because you never gave them one.
If Millennials and Gen Z can’t rely on an employer to be a partner with them in work, of course, attracting them will be difficult. Employers can’t offer loyalty or pensions anymore. So, figure out what you can offer that will benefit your employees. Pro tip – ask them! You’ll get a range of ideas you never even considered.
This is the Truth and Authenticity Generation
Young adults have aspirations and goals that are a trifecta of people, planet, purpose. They want a human experience and expect robots and automation to free them to experience more of life. They demand a sustainable planet and want options from companies to make that happen. From energy solutions to cosmetics to mutual funds, Millennials and Gen Z want to know their dollars will protect the Earth’s future. They want to contribute to the greater good whether they pick up trash or work as an engineer.
Leverage their desire to create and execute. They want to see a responsible world where individuals, communities, and companies work together to make life better. Just, please, whatever you do, make sure it comes from an authentic place of wanting to create community involvement. These kids can sniff out phonies faster than they can add a filter to a Snap.
Flexibility is the New Black
Work and life are fluid for this generation and they want flexible options like contracts, on-demand, full-time, or part-time. Just because they hate sitting in a cubicle from 9 to 5 doesn’t mean that don’t want to work hard. So how do employers go about hiring the next generation while keeping this in mind? You meet them where they are. Get to know them through their work, skills, interests, and values. Not a resume. Be honest and exact about what a job is and the skills you need them to have. What does the job require? Make a list of the skills they need to do the job. This will simplify the hiring process for you and for them.
Invest in the Future of Work
Embrace the honeymoon period and let them know this is a time for discovery for both of you. If they are pepelwerk Talent members, then you can trust that they will have options to manage their work life without putting an undue burden on you.
Once you have a great candidate, invest resources in them. Reward continual learning and help them leverage it to succeed in their career path, financial success, and genuine interests. Co-creating career paths with younger workers will help you retain talent for the long term.
Not all 3.5 billion people under age 30 want to conquer the world. They are looking for meaningful work just like you. If you’re an employer who gets that, they will do their best work for you and your business will reap the benefits.