The practice of labeling an entire generation began with the raw demographics known as The Baby Boomers. As millions of young Americans returned from war, their families began having the babies they couldn’t have while separated by war. Prior to the baby boom we didn’t label generations of people, now the practice has become ubiquitous. And, in the view of many, the most maligned generation of all time is the Millennials. While making assumptions about different categories of people, especially on the grounds of something like age, is the very definition of discrimination, it can sometimes be helpful to consider perspectives attributed to other generations, which may be different than our own.
By 2020 Millennials, people born between 1981 and 1995, will represent 50% of the US workforce. They are the generation from which you’re most likely to find your future senior living executives, directors, administrators and leaders. While every generation is seen as having its defining characteristics, good and bad, there seems to be trend to cast Millennials in a more negative light than positive. What is almost always overlooked is the Millennial generation is also said to be highly passionate about social causes and communities, thereby making them excellent candidates for the senior living industry.
Why the bad reputation then? Most Millennials are managed by Baby Boomers and the two generations are as different as night and day. Millennials graduated college with a mountain of student loan debt they can’t dream of paying off, so they’ve prioritized their life differently than Baby Boomers. They don’t work to make money and pay off debt like the Baby Boomers do. Millennials spend their money and dedicate their time to hobbies and causes –things outside of work, which can bring rise to the charge that they are lazy or irresponsible.
But, Millennials focus on things outside of work is exactly what makes them ideal candidates for senior living! They want to be inspired by causes and communities, to feel like they’re making a difference and giving back, all of which happens every single day at every single senior living community. In fact, 88% of Millennials said they would not work for a company that did not align with their social values or where they were not making a difference. What if you could offer Millennials a job with a socially responsible company where they could feel passionate about making a difference in the quality of care for our nation’s aging population? You can.
To prepare yourself for the Millennial workforce, take inventory of your corporate culture. So, what makes Millennials tick professionally and how can you attract them to your company?
- Development and work/life balance – (Surprisingly, it isn’t money.) Millennials rank professional development first in terms of employer benefits, followed by work/life balance and finally, the almighty dollar. Overwhelmingly, Millennials feel employers oversell their work/life balance in the interview process and fail to deliver on the job. Differentiate yourself from other employers by offering telecommuting, paid educational opportunities and training, and limit unnecessary corporate communication outside of normal business hours.
- Climbing the corporate ladder – Over half of Millennials would rather be promoted then receive a raise. By developing internal leadership and training programs, Millennials can be offered both professional development and opportunities for advancement. When most Millennials graduated college, they faced an incredibly tight job market with high unemployment rates. As a result, when Millennials find a job they’re more likely to stay with their first employer longer than previous generations because they value job security. This is great news for employers who invest in employee training and development.
- Technology – Almost 60% of Millennials said access to the latest technology is important when considering a job offer. In other words, it’s time to update from desktops to laptops, provide company phones and tablets. Increased access to technology allows employees to work outside the confines of the office, and that freedom is important to Millennials. Just over 40% of Millennials said they feel like their bosses, mostly Baby Boomers, don’t understand how they utilize technology outside of work, so make it a priority to educate all employees on the uses and benefits of technology to reduce this friction.
When creating an employer branding strategy and corporate culture, think about Millennials, and start thinking now. Creating a progressive, technology friendly, socially responsible corporate culture doesn’t happen overnight.