The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Business

September 18, 2013

Balancing Act: Millennials offer a lot to employers but have their own expectations

— Is moving on from an employer the only way for young people to get ahead in their careers?

It might be, if something doesn’t change for millennials in America’s workplaces.

Look around your office and it’s likely you will see young faces who want an entrepreneurial culture where their ideas are listened to and their voices heard. But new research shows managers often feel millennials want too much, too soon, and don’t know how to keep them on a career path that keeps them engaged.

“I think there’s a disconnect because older workers come from a time when you have one career for life and corporate loyalty, and millennials just want to make an impact on day one,“ said Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding, a consulting firm that helps companies understand the potential value of millennial workers.

Frustrated young innovators often take a “move up or move on“ attitude. Indeed, Schawbel’s research shows America’s millennials will have an average of 11 jobs between ages 18 and 34.

Eric Schecter, 27, has had four jobs. He says he tried to fit into traditional companies but considers himself an entrepreneurial spirit. He most recently worked as social media director at Carnival Cruise Lines for two years. In January, Schecter left to become a partner in two startups - The GiddyUp Group and Skynet Aire. “I was looking for the lifestyle outside of a big company, where I can do my own thing and travel and set up companies where I can work from anywhere in the world.“

Schecter said as an employee, he saw the disconnect between the generations. “Millennials want to be able to move at a quicker pace in their careers, to leverage technology and do away with less efficient processes, and that’s hard to do in a bigger corporation where older managers are used to doing things a certain way.“

While some big companies are empowering young employees to try new approaches, “it’s still a really slow process,“ he said.

Clearly, managers are having trouble understanding the value millennials could bring. New research shows a majority of young employees believe their bosses can offer experience and wisdom. Managers, on the other hand, largely view millennials as having a poor work ethic, being easily distracted, and having unrealistic salary expectations, according to the Gen Y Workplace Expectation study released Sept. 3 by Millennial Branding and American Express.

But, given that three-quarters of the workforce will be millennials in slightly over a decade, companies need to keep young entrepreneurs working on the inside if they’re going to stay in business and succeed, Schawbel said.

In most workplaces, managing millennials falls mostly to Gen Xers, (ages 33 to 50) many of whom also oversee older workers. Andrew Paton has worked at Dade Paper, a 75-year old Miami company, for more than a decade. At age 35, he manages employees of three generations. Paton has seen from the resumes he receives that when millennials feel stifled, they move on quickly. For him, the challenge is setting criteria for promotions and raises to keep his entire team engaged. Where his older workers want to be evaluated on goals and numbers, his younger workers want to be recognized for their ability to solve problems. Seeing the gap, he tries to keep his young sales force engaged by being flexible.

He also recognizes his 20-something workers want to incorporate more technology into their jobs, which he encourages, as long as they also work to strengthen their soft skills. “We want creative thinking, but we want them to learn the old-school way of doing business, which is about face-to-face and personal relationships.“

Most managers agree with Paton that millennials need to bolster critical soft skills to advance. In the workplace expectation study, almost 90 percent of managers said the top skill for a young employee was his or her ability to prioritize work, followed by a positive attitude and teamwork ability.

On the other hand, expectations around soft skills are oftentimes unclear to young workers, the research shows. Millennials polled said they often felt they weren’t getting enough feedback from their bosses, and there were differences around the timeframe for raises or promotions. Three quarters of managers polled said it would take about four years for an employee to move to the management level; by contrast, only 66 percent of millennial said it should take that long.

Jeremy Condomina, a 27-year old business analyst and computer system trainer at Dade Paper, said his generation struggles with the concept of proving themselves at work. “Often we try to push the envelope because we have an entrepreneurial spirit that the older generation doesn’t have. In college, we’re taught to share our ideas and expand on them. But in companies, it’s money and lives at stake, and innovation is slow. It tends to frustrate millennials and make them feel ignored.“

Condomina said his solution was to take a position where being innovative was built into the job description. His job is to analyze work flow and business processes and try to find ways to improve it. “It gives me the freedom to be an innovator.“

Schawbel said the No. 1 thing that managers need to do to keep millennials engaged is set expectations by telling a young employee what specifically to do to become a manager in a set number of years. “That’s key. Those expectations are so important, and nobody is setting them, which is why turnover is so high.“

Nikolai De Leo, a 25-year-old with Ernst & Young in Miami, said millennials not only want to know their path, they want to learn why they’re doing a task a certain way and that what they’re doing isn’t menial. “Recently, my manager explained the bigger picture, how my work helped in the grand scheme. That’s the best management style.“

Schawbel said he wants to encourage millennials to see that there are ways to get recognition and find career success without jumping ship. In tandem with the new research, he has released a book aimed at millennials: “Promote Yourself, The New Rules for Career Success.“ He encourages young workers to become “intrapreneurs“ within the corporation by taking risks, selling their ideas and seeing opportunities where others don’t.

“If you see an opportunity your company is not taking advantage of, do your research and build a presentation. That’s how you stand out,“ he said. “The idea is to get people within your company to see you as a future leader.“

Cindy Krischer Goodman is CEO of BalanceGal LLC, a provider of news and advice on how to balance work and life. She can be reached at balancegalgmail.com. Read her columns and blog at http://worklifebalancingact.com/.

1
Text Only
Business
  • How to become a leader

    QUESTION: I’ve just been promoted into a leadership role. I’m excited, but also kind of overwhelmed. What do I need to do to be good at my new job?

    July 24, 2014

  • Balancing Act: How much is your time worth? Consider outsourcing some tasks

    Todd Paton has a booming business getting customers noticed on the Web. One tool he uses is generating online press releases to build brand awareness and create links that will send traffic to a customer’s website. But Paton, owner of Paton Internet Marketing, acknowledges that writing the releases is not his strong suit. Rather than spend his time doing it, he hires out the task.

    July 23, 2014

  • The Color of Money: No easy way to get out of debt

    Many people who are deeply in debt are desperate for a quick fix. They ask the question: What can I do to get out of debt?

    July 21, 2014

  • Watercooler: When to speak up if you see problems down the line

    Q: Our organization has hired a new director. I am one of a number of division heads; above us, there's the associate director, and above him is the director. The associate director is feared and disliked for his duplicity and dictatorial nature, though few have come forward because of his vindictiveness.

    July 18, 2014

  • Career Coach: Bringing a purpose-driven spirit to work

    Increasingly, religious beliefs and practices of employees are becoming more evident in the workplace. Religious diversity and concepts of spirituality are more prevalent in organizational settings.

    July 18, 2014

  • Ask the Mompreneur: It’s best to farm out your payroll

    When my husband and I hired our first employee at our Web development company, we had it easy when it came to doing payroll.

    July 17, 2014

  • Protecting against unnecessary losses

    QUESTION: I run a small bar and grill which is open 7 days a week and have to rely on others for some of the shifts. How can I ensure employees have not become my partners?

    July 17, 2014

  • A checklist for keeping you focused at work

    A quick check of Facebook and next thing you know, a half-hour’s passed. Start chatting with a co-worker and suddenly 20 minutes is gone and the report you were supposed to finish by lunch is late.
    Workplace distractions are everywhere, especially in an age of social media and open-plan offices. In the face of so much temptation, accomplishing what you’re paid to do can be tough.

    July 16, 2014

  • It could be time for a career coach

    Need a little help figuring out your next career move?
    If you’re putting in the hours and still not seeing the rewards, feeling undervalued or simply striving to be more successful, it may be time to hire a career coach.

    July 16, 2014

  • Your Office Coach: Turn to boss for help with disgruntled underling

    QUESTION: When I joined this company a few weeks ago, I discovered that the person who previously held my position is now working for me. “Sarah” obviously resents my presence and frequently says I don’t have the authority to manage her, even though I clearly do. Her negativity has made my job much more difficult.

    July 15, 2014

Business Video
Stocks