As the economy continues to recover, more and more companies are realizing the value in hiring millenials, those born between the late 1970s and the 2000s. While putting Generation Y on the payroll can lead to benefits such as an increased social media presence, it can also generate issues such as reverse age discrimination. If your company is considering hiring millenials, you should carefully consider the implications for your business.
1. Social media symbiosis benefits them...AND you. Younger workers have an intense connection to social media. MySpace was born in 2003, and Facebook followed in 2004, meaning many in the younger generation have been using these and other social platforms for over a decade. Hiring millenials means accepting their active online presence and understanding that this can help with consumer outreach. Instead of limiting social media interaction, use your younger workers and their networks of friends to increase awareness of your brand.
2. Money means a lot. Fulfillment means more. While stereotypically characterized as lazy or jaded, millenials actually value work they consider meaningful and which they feel like they have affected in some way. Provide young workers with responsibilities they can take ownership of and a less rigid work environment and they are much more likely to actually sense their contributions to the company and perform better as a result.
3. Hands-on supervising is often preferred. Perhaps because of years of helicopter parenting, younger workers embrace more regular interaction with supervisors. Hiring millenials means putting less emphasis on stale performance reviews. Real-time feedback is preferred by 80% of young workers. Collaboration is also important to them, which is another reason why social media remains such a dominant force in their lives.
4. Many younger employees are surprisingly business savvy. Business journals frequently feature stories about 20-year-old wunderkinds starting million dollar businesses, and 30% of millenials who have started a business did so while attending college. Additionally, 92% of those aged 21-24 believe entrepreneurship is vital to the new economy. Hiring millenials may mean finding the next Mark Zuckerberg. This goes hand-in-hand with providing real responsibility to them: give younger workers projects they can sink their teeth into with clearly defined goals and you may find yourself reaping the rewards.
5. Young does not necessarily mean inexperienced. Reverse age discrimination is an issue in the workplace, especially when older workers are being evaluated by individuals that may be ten or twenty years their junior. Recently hired millenials may have less relative experience in the workforce, but if they are hired for a job, then it's important to provide them the support they need to be successful, especially if involves supervising more senior employees. Instead of segregating the workforce or valuing one group over the other, you should focus on fostering cooperation and embracing the different strengths of workers of all ages without engaging with negative stereotypes.
The UNC Kenan-Flagler School of Business estimates that by 2020, 46% of the workforce will be millenials. So while hiring millenials requires an overhaul to traditional methods of management, the long-term benefits to changing up your business environment to help them succeed can far outweigh the costs.
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