An HR Perspective of Millennials in the Workplace

Millennials in the Workplace

On last week’s podcast, we had the chance to meet with Mike McGuiness. Mike is a consultant for the HR Policy Association and spends a good amount of his time working with the nonprofit, jobipedia.org. Jobipedia is a free website that provides career and internship advice to recent graduates and current college students. Anyone can submit a question that will then be answered by top professionals inside the HR departments of a variety of Fortune 500 Companies.

As much as anyone can be, Mike is practically an expert in the ways of millennials. He shared with us his views on how millennials positively impact today’s world of business.

 

Establishing Roots

A common idea about millennials is that they tend to job-hop, never staying in one place for more than about two years. Whether it’s for higher pay or to take on new challenges, this does seem to be the case. However, Mike didn’t think of this as a bad thing. Instead, he pointed out that the continual job-hopping pushes employers to rethink their policies. The question has shifted away from “how do I do what’s best for the company?” to “how do I hire the best people and retain them?” Mike explains that millennials are “forcing employers to look externally in terms of, ‘how can I attract the best talent?’ Does that mean offering a flexible schedule or a remote work environment? Or, maybe a more attractive work environment to make sure that people come in and enjoy where they work on a day-to-day basis — so that they can interact positively and efficiently with their peers.”

Because millennials are craving more from their jobs than just a way to get paid, the industry is having to make a change. In the process, every employee is benefitting from the crafted new environment.

 

Attitudinal Variations

Although many view millennials as lazy, Mike points out that “taking an entire generation and generalizing them in broad strokes” will never be true for everyone. Of course there will always be outliers, in both directions. But that doesn’t mean all millennials are lazy, nor should they be viewed as such.

In fact, one noticeable positive difference in the attitudes of millennials and older generations is the way they receive feedback. Mike notes that many older individuals fear negative feedback, especially on a performance review. Millennials, on the other hand, run towards that. They say things like, “Tell me what I’ve done wrong, I want constant information feedback.”

While a constant outsourcing of feedback might be difficult for an employer, the attitude it creates is beneficial for the company as a whole. It signifies the desire for growth, on a personal and professional level. Mike says, “Frankly, if somebody is approaching my workforce like that, I’d love to have them on board because I know that they’re trying to make our world better.”

 

Driving the Business Forward

Along with the rise of millennials entering the workforce comes a unique element previous generations haven’t dealt with: technology.

Technology is racing through business, and who better to install new versions than the very people who grew up with it? Especially in the field of HR, technology is making impacts on efficiency and progress. Mike points out that in the past two years, HR has begun to take “a more quantitative approach as opposed to a qualitative approach,” largely spurred on by technological advances. As more millennials come in, new strategies arise. “Let’s look at performance data, let’s look at some of this hiring data. Who’s truly successful and why? They’re now accessing that in a much more intelligent way and utilizing it to make better decisions.”

One of the key reasons for this shift is the millennials’ new way of approaching things. Raised in the generation of Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos, millennials don’t believe any idea is impossible. And perhaps that truly is the key to driving business into the future.

Sexual Harassment In The Digital Age

Recently, we sat down with Mallory Basore, a Human Resources Manager at Staff One, Inc. who specializes in sexual harassment training. During our conversation, she shared with us some of her best advice for HR managers dealing with sexual harassment prevention and training in their workplace.

Social Media

Of course, one of the most obvious features of the digital age is social media, and sites like Facebook and Instagram can mean a new channel for sexual harassment. Mallory explains, “I’m seeing a lot more complaints that stem from social media. Things are happening away from the workplace, after hours but between colleagues via Facebook Messenger or over Instagram, so a lot of employers’ and employees’ first assumption is that it’s not sexual harassment since they’re not at work and it’s their own personal social media. While that might be true, you still can’t harass your coworkers.” This can lead to difficult situations for both HR managers and employees alike; the best way to avoid them is to provide clear training to employees that stresses the fact that harassment can happen both during and after work.

Workplace Relationships

Office romances certainly aren’t new to the digital age, but with the advent of dating apps and social media, it can become even more complicated for HR managers. Mallory offers her advice for handling these situations, saying, “It is natural for employees to develop friendships and relationships with people that they work with. You spend a lot of time with the people that you work with and sometimes that can turn into something romantic. In that case, it’s not going to meet the definition of harassment since it is welcomed, so I encourage people that find themselves in that situation to come forward and let somebody in management know. That way, it doesn’t come back to bite them later if there’s a breakup and somebody comes forward saying, ‘Look at all these messages I’ve received. They were harassing me that whole time.’ ” Teaching your employees how to protect themselves in these situations can save all parties involved any stress or headache later on.

Update Your Policies

With all the changes that accompany technology, as well as the increased attention on sexual harassment in the workplace as a result of the #metoo movement, an HR manager would be remiss not to update the company policies regarding sexual harassment. Mallory says, “I would recommend that companies update their handbook to ensure that they have a policy related to harassment. I write handbooks all the time, and to be totally honest, I’m aware that no one wants to read those. But having a meeting to go over those really key policies, things like harassment and workplace violence can ensure everybody knows that you take it very seriously.” Mallory also suggests implementing a zero-tolerance policy when updating handbooks, so that if a sexual harassment claim can be substantiated, that employee can be terminated. This will show all employees just how seriously your company takes this issue.

While sexual harassment is certainly not a topic anyone, especially an HR manager, likes to discuss, it is increasingly important as companies step into the digital age. By combining well-written policies with strong and clear communication with all employees, you can do your best to ensure it doesn’t happen in your office.

5 Myths About Millennials in the Workplace

On a recent episode of HR Insider, we had the chance to talk with Mary Larocca, Vice President of Global Business Development at Cornerstone Relocation Group. She debunked five common myths about millennials and shared insight into how best to approach this generation from an HR and Relocation perspective.

Myth #1: All Millennials Are Alike

A big mistake companies make is overlooking the individual needs of millennial employees because they assume certain likes and dislikes about their generation. “Everyone is unique and everybody has different things that contribute to who they are,” says Mary. “So try to find what’s individual about the person and what’s going to make things important for them. I think that’s a big thing that can be done even from the recruiting stage over to the HR stage.”

A great way to avoid the pitfall of generalizing the wants of a generation is to acknowledge people’s different needs by offering choices to your employees. It is unrealistic to individualize each policy, but your company can offer a set of options that employees can choose from. This is especially important when it comes to relocation. Mary suggests, “Give someone three or four choices that your company is okay with providing, then whoever is making the choice will feel like they’re invested in [what they have chosen] … Remember that somebody might want to just pack themselves up and move and one might want to have an option to use that money towards pet sitting or some other thing.” Millennials are not a “one size fits all” generation. Acknowledge the individual needs of your employees by offering options.

 

Myth #2: Millennials Have Social Interaction Issues

A big stereotype about millennials is that they are more comfortable with sitting behind a computer and chatting online than they are with talking on the phone or face-to-face. While it is true that the former is a more common way for millennials to communicate, it doesn’t mean they are anti-social. The fact that this generation communicates and shares their interests online can be a real asset to HR professionals because it can give them insight into what their employees like and need.

Mary recommends using the internet to HR’s advantage with a little online research to help form connections between employees. Identify some of your employees’ interests by searching online and find a way to bridge those interests with team building activities. She says, “When you’re having a relocation program, maybe think about things like shared housing or doing social outings that have a purpose. We recently, here in Arizona, went out to a food bank and handled giving out food to people who needed it in the Phoenix community. Things like that help people feel connected and make our world feel a little smaller.” Though it may seem like millennials prefer to stay behind their computer screen, they still need connection and purpose. Motivate them with meaningful causes and opportunities to spend time with their team.

Myth #3: Millennials Have No Loyalty

The millennial generation has gained a reputation of having no loyalty because it is much more common for them to work at multiple companies throughout their career compared to previous generations. While it is true that changing employers is much more common for millennials, this doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a lack of loyalty. Mary points out that millennials have loyalty to themselves. “Being loyal to yourself, to the process, and making yourself happy is much different than loyalty to a big company or a manager,” she explains. This commonality among millennials is beneficial for companies to know. Mary says, “From an HR perspective, think about what’s important to the person that you are managing or the person that you’re bringing on.” By listening to what your employee wants, you will know how to keep them at your company.

Therefore, it is more about companies adapting to a generation that has different desires and wants to be loyal to themselves. In knowing this, companies can retain millennials by allowing them opportunities to do something that they love. Mary points out how critical it is for the HR community to ask each person on their team or each person that they are moving what’s important to them. She says, “Sometimes [managers] just don’t want to ask the question and I think they’re missing out on an opportunity to really make someone feel loyal and connected, and [millenials] do that by being passionate about things.”

 

Myth 4: Millennials Can’t Take Ownership

A common trait in millennials is that they are about a shared economy. Mary points out that “[Millennials] want to have things, but only when it makes sense. [They] don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a purse, for example, when [they] can rent one and just use it for the season or an afternoon.” There is a shift in the mindset of ownership in which millennials want to use objects when needed and let others enjoy their use when they are not needed, rather than just sitting unused.

To expand upon this myth, Mary highlights how experiences are more valuable to millennials than accumulating material goods. From an HR perspective, she suggests, “Think about the experience you can give an employee… Is there an experience that you can give that employee that might make them be able to stay with the company longer? Is there an assignment overseas that they could go for three months because they don’t have all the things that can tie them back home in the U.S.?” Use the new perspective on ownership to help motivate your millennial employees by providing them with the option to collect new experiences through your company.

Myth #5: Millenials Can’t Make Decisions

The myth that millennials are indecisive has evolved from the ability to research and comparison shop. Millennials make decisions, but they tend to research ahead of time online before making those decisions. The common practice of online research is an important factor for businesses to consider when recruiting millennials. Mary suggests, “Research yourself and see what impression you are giving…  If you’re trying to portray something, make sure that’s really what’s coming across from a technology standpoint because that’s where everyone’s going to go first to look.” Having the insight that millennials do make decisions, but they shop around first, will help ensure that your online presence is properly representing your business and attracting your desired candidates.

When it comes to stereotypes about generations, it’s helpful to have an idea of what to expect and how to handle interactions; yet, in the end, we are talking about individual human beings, and no one person is the same. Mary sums it up perfectly when she says, “You really can find real connections and real loyalty when you find out what’s important to a person and what makes them an individual.”

 

3 HR Trends to Watch


Recently, we sat down with Dr. Stevie Dawn, the owner and founder of Orange Compass, who works with human resources departments across the country implementing emotional intelligence-based training. She shed some light on three of the most talked-about topics in HR today: Talent acquisition, millennials in the workplace, and succession training.

 

Talent Acquisition

Dr. Dawn:  “At this point, companies can’t afford to make [hiring] mistakes anymore. They have to hire the right people at the right time and that means having people who are specialists in that talent field, so I think [we’re] seeing a lot of HR professionals start to divide into regular, strategic, tactical HR, and talent acquisition. It’s a different mode. You have to be able to read people differently and look at different assessment tools and things like that in the talent field. One of the biggest hot-button issues right now is just finding good talent.”

Dr. Dawn makes a great point: hiring people is much more difficult today than it was 20 years ago. You are looking for talented people that will be a good fit for your organization, and finding the right person means looking at all the individual pieces and putting them together.

 

Millennials in the Workplace

Dr. Dawn:There are millennials coming through the ranks that have the skill set, as far as they’ve got the knowledge. They’ve gone to college. We’re making college something more and more people can do, which is awesome. So more and more people are getting a college education and they have those skill sets, but they’re not getting any work experience along the way, which then falls to HR because once they’re hired, who has to train them? The HR department is now having to do more on the job training than they’ve ever had to do before, especially in things like soft skills and how to be a good employee. If they’ve never had a job, they’ve never learned that skill.”

Millennials in the workplace is certainly a hot topic today, and they are entering the workforce in droves. Companies are being forced to adjust to these new employees who are more different from their predecessors than any other generation before them. Empowering millennials with soft skills training is an excellent way to bridge the gap.


 

Succession Training

Dr. Dawn:What we’re seeing is a lot of the top level executives at companies are leaving and moving on to another stage of their life and therefore, there are openings at the top but we don’t have a lot of people trained within to handle those kinds of positions. We’ve trained them to do very specific jobs, but we have not trained them to have strategic vision. We have not trained them in critical thinking. And so, can they really manage a huge organization if they’ve only ever managed their one department of 10 people? As organizations, we’ve got to start thinking about succession planning.”

Unprepared successors are an issue businesses have begun to run into as executives retire. To bypass this problem, Dr. Dawn points out that companies need to train the upcoming generation to lead at a larger scale. Empowering employees with a strategic and big picture skill set will make for a much more effective transition to leadership down the line.

To hear Dr. Stevie Dawn’s entire interview and more bits of wisdom, you can listen here.

 

How To Create And Honor Diversity In The Workplace

On a recent episode of HR Insider, we got the chance to sit down and talk with Dan, an HR representative for a Fortune 500 company who recently took on a new role within diversity inclusion. He shared with us his insight on improving inclusion in the workplace and supporting diverse communities and customers.

At the most basic level, inclusivity is about starting the discussion and forcing people to think about why they do things the way they do. Dan focused a lot on getting people to open their minds, which involves everyone at a company from the C-suite to the entry-level employees.

“It comes down to collaborating as a team, not only with the Diversity & Inclusion team, but the corporate side as well, and trying to get people from different areas and trying to work together to make an inclusive community. Additionally, to bring up awareness and the power of asking why. Asking, “Okay, why is it this way? Why is it that way?” It’s about opening that line of communication so everybody can feel included, everybody can be heard, and everybody can learn, educate, and grow from it.”

Another point that Dan really drove home was the importance of looking for talent in places companies don’t traditionally look. Whether that is looking at schools that you don’t typically recruit from or considering someone from a background that is different than your usual hires, he stressed that this diversity can add invaluable perspective to teams and improve the organization overall. He doesn’t necessarily ask people to change their hiring process, only to take a critical eye to it and see if there is room for increased diversity.

“People from different backgrounds and different lifestyles, they all have talents that they can showcase, and I think companies should see that, learn from it, grow from it, and even improve from it. Research even shows that corporations with a diverse network and diverse groups or teams do better financially in the long run. If everybody is coming from the same place, the same school, the same everything, then you’re not going to grow. You’re not going to develop. You’re just going to get the same old, same old, and that’s not how companies grow or even stay above water. They fail.”

At the end of our chat, Dan emphasized the value that HR departments can bring to individuals. While the human element of human resources may get lost sometimes, at the end of the day, their job is to be there for each and every employee.

“There’s more to HR than just people handling benefits or recruiting. It’s breaking down barriers and opening people’s mindset to find out what lies beneath.”

Diversity and inclusion are becoming increasingly important issues for companies to address, and it will always be better to be proactive instead of reactive. By constantly seeking ways to include different perspectives and people of all backgrounds, an organization can ensure it thrives for years to come.