3 things to know about millennials

From the pages of In Business magazine.

“Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents … and why they’ll save us all” was the subtitle of the May 2013 Time magazine cover story. A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics study estimated that there are approximately 60 million baby boomers (born 1946-64), 49.5 million Generation X-ers (1965-80), and 32 million millennials (early 1980s to early 2000s) in the U.S. labor force. 

Even for those of us who aren’t math whizzes, it is obvious that in coming years, even if the number of jobs stays the same, there will be a 10.5 million-worker gap once the boomers retire and Generation X-ers take the corporate reins. This means that millennial workers will be required to take leadership roles in companies earlier than the generations before them. In Madison and nationwide, recruitment and retention of top young talent will be a driving factor in the future success of businesses.  

Another study, by Bell Oaks Executive Search Group, found that inflated salaries or bonuses are not among the top ways to recruit and retain high-performing millennials. Unlike other generations before them, millennials are motivated by other considerations, including additional training and professional development opportunities, mentorship, opportunities to advance, and flexibility to allow work-life balance. 

It has also been widely noted that millennials bring a unique and sometimes challenging perspective to the workplace. I remember my dad’s look of shock one night when I told him at dinner that I was texting my boss about a project I was currently working on. “Texting your boss? On her personal phone? On Saturday night?!” My dad has been at the same company for more than 25 years. He has worked his way up through the ranks by working hard, following procedures, and sticking to corporate structure. I have the utmost respect for him as a business mentor, but the path he has taken is definitely not for many millennials. 

Since graduating from college only a few years ago, several of my friends are already on their second or third job (by choice). They love posting “selfies” on Facebook or Instagram (as shown by this year’s 40 Under 40), but they also love to share updates about what is going on in their companies and to help spread their businesses’ brands by getting involved in the local community. Millennials are also more technologically savvy than any previous generation and tend to be uncomfortable in a rigid corporate environment. 

What does all of this mean? It means there are three things that both millennials and those who manage them need to remember in order to be successful in the workplace.



1. Soon there will be a huge need for millennials to step into leadership roles earlier than past generations did.

2. Professional development and opportunities for work-life balance are keys to attracting and retaining the best young talent.

3. All generations have different traits and work styles, but there are ways to close these gaps in order to have a productive and innovative workplace.

As the president of CONNECT Madison, a new young professionals group for emerging leaders in the Madison area, I often hear about issues facing this key workforce demographic. Going forward in this column, I will give practical advice and present action-oriented ideas to help the next generation of Madison business leaders grow their career capital. Pass on these monthly tips to millennials in your office to help them grow professionally. If you are an executive or manage younger employees, use these insights as a way to help you coach, engage, motivate, and hopefully retain your top young talent.

If you have issues or topic areas that have come up in your business that you would like to be considered for this column, I’d love to hear from you! You can email me at jennalweber@gmail.com. 

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