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January 12, 2008

Richard Florida

But, I Want it NOW!

« University-Community Connection | Main | Nightlife »

Understanding "millenials" in the workplace continues to be a challenge for both employers and employees.

Network World magazine reports on a recent survey of IT Managers:

Atlantic Associates polled more than 100 Massachusetts executives on the challenges they face and more than 50% of respondents described those teen and 20-something employees as the "toughest generation to manage." Generation Xers (ages 32 to 42 years old) placed second with 17% of respondents saying they pose a management challenge.

Jack Harrington, co-founder and principal of the staffing firm, says the problem between employers and the younger generation just entering the workforce can be traced back to the employees' upbringing or an easier way of life for children in the United States today.

"The issue managers are facing is with retention, not hiring. That means the work environment is not living up to the employee's expectation," he says. For instance, many younger workers expect to get an office immediately or be paid at a rate higher than entry level.

"Millennials are coming in with high expectations and are disillusioned about the reality of a work place. They feel they should be rewarded and start at the top, when we all know you have to work your way up. They have been raised to be rewarded often and when you get into the workforce those rules change a bit," Harrington says.

But Millennials' ideas also have a positive influence on work environments. For instance, they expect their employer to be socially responsible and take part in community or philanthropic ventures, which is a good thing, Harrington says.

There are so many things wrong with those statements, I'm not sure where to begin.  (But, also some things that are right.)  Employers want the employees and the skills they provide (especially important in IT) but don't have any real understanding of what they really want.  Failing to develop that understanding means retention is an issue.

He later goes on to say: 

"There is a shrinking talent pool of qualified IT professionals and some managers are talking about the graying of their current staff. They want to get young workers in here before those older staff members retire so they can retain that knowledge," Harrington says.

With Boomers retiring (two people are now leaving the workforce with only one replacement), it's a "seller's market".  The companies that actually work to understand the needs of their Creative workforce rather than complain about them, are the companies that are going to be successful.

Read the full story (and the replies from some of these workers) here.

posted by Kevin Stolarick

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Comments

Alison

There was some discussion of this here.
http://organizationsandmarkets.com/2007/12/06/new-challenges-for-business-educators/

It was prompted by a WSJ column in early December which included this paragraph in an interview with Daphne Atkinson of the Graduate Management Admissions Council:
[The current generation has] the sense that it is either irrelevant or meaningless to “pay dues.” It can be disappointing to find out that you won’t be president of the company in two years. Millennials want their dream job as early as possible. But entry-level jobs are seldom dream jobs, although they may be at dream companies or in dream industries.

Check out the link.

Ken Hunt

Haven't 20-somethings always been the toughest group to manage, regardless of larger demographic trends? Haven't they always had unrealistic expectations?

If you want to convince me of this, I'd need to see some historical data that proves so-called "millennials" are harder to manage than Gen-Xers or Boomers were in their 20s. I tend to believe that if you go back, you'll find employers in the 1960s complaining about Hippies, etc.

Sean Ferenci

Dear Richard,

I am an IT worker with about 10 years of work experience and a Masters degree in Engineering. I have left my last two jobs one after a year and the other after 20 months. I didn't leave either of them because of pay. I was quite happy with the level of compensation in each case. My departure was prompted in each case by managerial neglect. I could not get clear and understandable goals about how to advance in the organization, in both cases I was told that the manager would know when I was ready to advance. No targets, no goals, just keep plugging away and we will let you know.

The fact is that IT workers have lots of options which include leaving their job and switching vocations. Which many do.

Best Regards,

Sean

Zoe B

If creatives are most productive in their twenties, and if employers pay only for productivity (feeling free to dump less-productive senior workers), it's just economic good sense for millenials to move on when they find a better opportunity.

If the cause of the moving-around is immaturity, employers might do well to invest in mentoring. Beyond the personal benefit to the youth, an employer might learn about (and have the opportunity to fix) problems such as managerial neglect. Robert Putnam's book Better Together cites several examples of workplaces that improved productivity and job satisfaction by cultivating personal relations between managers and subordinates.

nasri

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