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A Crash Course in Employing a Millennial

Jason Kamery//July 9, 2014//

A Crash Course in Employing a Millennial

Jason Kamery //July 9, 2014//

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While selling to the Millennial generation is important, equally as important for retailers is employing them.

When learning more about the Millennial generation and how to motivate them to work, several questions may come to mind for retailers. Pet Age asked Heather Resh-Crotsley, director of marketing for That Fish Place That Pet Place in Pennsylvania what some of the issues they run into are. Pet Age posed those questions to Nathan Richter, principal of Wakefield Research.

While Wakefield are not HR consultants, they do have a strong knowledge, and have done a lot of research, about Millennials.

Heather: They tend to have a hard time socializing face-to-face. They’re very good at communicating via email or text, but have trouble conversing with customers one on one. How might we train them to be more comfortable and sociable around unfamiliar people?

Nathan: Millennials expect to have intensive on-the-job training, yet in the opinion of Millennials, a majority of employers offer very little training, or none at all. Sixty percent of employed Millennials say they’ve never had on-the-job training. In reality, it’s not that companies aren’t offering training, but that Millennials have a specific definition of what they consider “real” training. It’s not enough just to pull them aside and give them pointers.

If training isn’t highly formalized and frequent, Millennials don’t consider it “training.” Employers should set aside dedicated time, schedule it in advance, provide training materials, and do this frequently.

Heather: We’ve noticed that our Millennial employees have a different work ethic than other generations that we employ. For example: they don’t understand the importance of coming to work on time, following our rules and policies, or following the proper chain of command. How might we help this generation succeed in the workforce where these skills are required?

Nathan: Remember that while 70 percent of college students have held some type of job by the time they graduate, for 50% of students these were part-time jobs, and likely undemanding positions. Their resumes may indicate that they have experience, but in reality they’ve never been held to the standards of a professional workplace.

It may seem obvious to you, but a new employee may not understand what truly constitutes professional conduct, like not showing up 10 minutes late. The solution is to very specifically, and in great detail, state expectations during employee onboarding, and to consistently apply the policy when it’s violated.

 Heather: Lastly, we have a difficult time motivating the Millennial generation to be excited about and involved in company events (adoption events, educational events, sale events, etc.). Does your expert have any tips on getting the generation involved in the pet industry and hobbies?

Nathan: Millennials are enthusiastic about pets, so an interest in pets likely isn’t the issue. Instead, it’s possible that your Millennial employees don’t feel that these events benefit them.

Millennials are generally very economically rational. Meaning, they consistently evaluate returns on their investments of time and energy.  That’s a fancy way of saying, they’re prone to ask “What’s in it for me?” when asked to participate.

This can be incredibly frustrating for employers. For long-term employees, employers can work to change this culture by investing employees in the purpose and planning behind the event, which conveys a sense of ownership. For short-term employees, you won’t have time to change their culture, and may have to rely on incentives like bonuses, days off, or freebies.