How much of your workforce is comprised of millennials, or people between the ages of 18-34? As of 2015, millennials have outgrown1 both Gen X and baby boomers in the United States workforce and now make up the largest percentage of today’s global workforce.
Many studies have labeled millennials as self-absorbed, entitled, unfocused and defensive. There’s also been speculation that their behaviors directly correlate with the high turnover rates some companies have been experiencing over the past several years. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 91 percent of millennials expect to stay at their job for less than three years and 51 percent are not engaged in their current job. This generation doesn’t believe in waiting their turn for opportunities by staying at one company for an extended period. They’re not afraid to move from job to job to gain the experience they desire. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also notes that the average millennial has had 6.2 jobs by age 27. For the foodservice industry, this is hugely impactful, particularly when you consider the industry’s already astronomical turnover rate. Per restauraunt.org, turnover rate in the hospitality sector topped 70 percent in 2016 for the second consecutive year.
If we take a step back to before millennials entered the workforce, baby boomers were in the majority. Today, approximately 10,000 baby boomers leave the workforce for retirement per day — taking a lot of industry experience and informal process knowledge with them. As they depart, the economy continues to grow, and while there are a lot of millennials, there aren’t enough millennials to fill the workforce gap. This gap, paired with rampant foodservice turnover, is creating quite the challenge. Companies must adjust — and do so quickly — to the goals and needs of the shifting workforce population.
Appealing to the Millennial Mindset
With millennials overtaking the workforce, employers should consider how this new generation wants to engage, from interview to exit. It’s no surprise that technology is at the center of the millennial psyche. They grew up with advanced technology, more so than any previous generation. To them, everything in the workplace should be progressive, instant and autonomous.
A large component of how millennials communicate and interact with one another is through social media. It plays a huge role in the way they tell their story — personally and at work — so it’s important to keep this in mind when designing a work environment conducive to millennials. For example, many companies use Workplace by Facebook or similar applications to engage with employees. Aside from employee engagement, provide them with updated technology that helps them be more efficient and effective in their roles. From software to hardware, equipping millennials with current technology helps them feel like they’re set up for success (and customers appreciate it as well).
Millennials have also been described as unfocused and constantly distracted, mostly by technology. This makes sense considering their generation has been surrounded by stimulus their entire lives. While they may become distracted, this could be due to a perceived vacuum. They desire direction and, absent of it, they follow the path of least resistance. They need engaged managers who provide policies, procedures and training. Create a continuous feedback loop and find a consistent way to provide constructive feedback. Millennials really appreciate receiving this feedback in real-time, further fostering their instant nature.
One of the most prominent desires amongst millennial workers is flexibility. They want to work their way and on their terms. This group requires a work-life balance, which is noticeably different than previous generations. To millennials the job is important, but their personal life is more important. Much of this group saw previous generations spend countless hours at their jobs with little to no return in the end. This has caused millennials to value other aspects of life more than work. It’s important to remember though, this isn’t a work quality issue, rather it’s just reprioritization and something today’s employers must adapt to.
To alter this mindset and help employees find pride in their job, companies need to find something for millennials to feel connected to at work. This generation wants to leave a job with an improved skillset. Employers can offer more value by providing them with skills that are flexible and can be taken anywhere.
It’s More Than Punching a Clock
Ultimately, millennials are loyal to something that provides value and gives them purpose and opportunity. Unlike previous generations, they don’t respond well to just a paycheck, as they appreciate verbal rewards and affirmation for their accomplishments. For this group, it’s not just about punching a clock.
With all of this said, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re hiring an individual and not a generation. Companies should look at the specific candidate and understand who they are, what they value and what they desire from this job beyond anything else. Millennials are extremely intelligent and well-rounded individuals who require employers to think a bit differently about the way they approach our shifting workforce — more so now than ever before.
1 “Millennials surpass Gen Xers as the largest generation in U.S. labor force,” Fact Tank, May 11, 2015
About the authors
Dave Barclay is Director of Enterprise Sales Enablement at Shamrock Foods. A 28-year veteran of the foodservice industry, Dave is a member of Shamrock’s Sales Operations team. He directs Sales Training, Sales Support and Salesforce Transformation initiatives at Shamrock. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Shamrock Foods serves the Western U.S. and is one of the nation’s largest foodservice distributors.
Rick Chappel is the VP of Customer Success at Zilliant, where he leads the global customer success group, ensuring that Zilliant customers get the greatest long-term benefit from Zilliant’s solutions and innovations, while maintaining high customer satisfaction and retention. For more than 20 years, Rick has helped his customers use technology to deliver enhanced business results.