My name is Kelsey Doom, and I am your new director of economic development. I have been asked to write a column to update my community on the plans an...
Meet the New Director of Economic Development!
June 9, 2014
November 12, 2014
Millennial (mil·len·ni·al) noun
Millennial: a person born in the 1980s or 1990s (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
Whether I am attending a housing conference or watching the news, the topic surrounding millennials is everywhere. The stigma is this: millennials don’t work as hard as the baby boomers, we need praise for everything (even just showing up) and, most importantly, our number one priority is ourselves. Our cell phones are as attached to us as our limbs, and we expect to be able to “roll into work with iPods and flip flops around noon, but still be CEO by Friday,” (60 Minutes, 2007).
So, how does a small town business accommodate to this new pool of workforce that grew up with everyone getting “Participant” ribbons and having mom and Mister Rogers reassuring them how “special” they are for doing very little? (Love you, mom.)
Let me tell you a story. While living in Colorado, I heard of this great call center that paid okay, but they supposedly had beer available for employees and every desk was equipped with a Nerf gun. I applied for and got a job in the customer service center answering phones. The work was okay, but the environment was amazing. They had a break room with a pool and ping pong table, I got to wear jeans to work, didn’t have to clock in until 9:30 every morning, and yes, there was beer. I was dealing with customers who weren’t satisfied with their product, thus usually didn’t have very nice things to say, but I don’t ever remember having a bad day at work. I was always excited when people asked me where I worked, because I got to tell them of my awesome “benefits” package. That company, Otterbox, was listed as the 70th fastest growing company in the world in Inc. magazine in 2011 and saw 3,179 (yes, THOUSAND) percent growth from 2007 to 2010. That CEO was on to something (Inc. 5000 2011: The Fastest-Growing Private U.S. Companies, At a Glance, 2011; Martin, 2014).
I am not saying employers need to have a waitress handing out shots when the clock hits 3pm, but what the millennials value is much different than what employers are used to. We are a very resourceful generation; we are capable of working hard—if you put a goal in front of us, we will get things done.
I understand how employers might see this as an entitlement issue, or that millennials are not willing to work hard. But we are willing to work hard—but our incentives to work are different than previous generations. Think of us as a “no stick, all carrot” kind of labor pool. Stop bossing, start coaching. Throw a company picnic and show up in the dunk tank with arm floaties. I continue to hear businesses talk about the lack of help out there and how hard it is to retain good employees—I challenge you to get creative and make your office a place where employees not only enjoy their work, but look forward to work. It is possible, and those who don’t adapt to the changing pool of employees will struggle as the millennials keep coming into the workforce.