QuickBizBreak by david weaver

Take a quick break from your biz to ponder new ideas and strategies that will turbocharge your business.

Mining for Millennials – Part I

Posted by QuickBizBreak on October 10, 2019

Finding good job candidates these days appears next to impossible. Blame a good economy which creates greater competition for jobs. Finding millennial candidates is even more difficult. A client recently told of his frustration of, after a long search and much vetting, hired a millennial job candidate. When the day came for her to report, she was a no-show. Adding to the frustration is that it was the second time this had happened. Was this a case of poor communications on the part of the dealer? Not setting proper expectations? In this case, the start date was clearly communicated and agreed to. As for setting expectations, most would agree that showing up is the bare minimum for a new hire.

Why target millennials when much is written about their contrarian work habits? It’s fairly simple, really. Your staff continues to age and eventually you will have to tap into the millennial market, which by 2020 they will make up 40% of the workforce, to bring up the next generation of sales, service, and office staff. And regardless of what you hear about millennials not being as excited about car ownership, you also want sales staff who can relate to this generation of auto buyers.

Another reason to understand millennials is that as your managers age out, millennials will eventually fill those positions as they advance through the ranks. If you are a family-owned dealership, you may well have kids that fall into this age group who represent the next generation of business owners. Understanding their viewpoint, lifestyle, and influences will give you a new perspective of future ownership as well as help create a positive environment that may be attractive for them to actually want to enter our industry. Let’s face it, the dealership management model and time requirement in a six or even seven day a week retail business does not represent a magnet for young employees. It can rob precious time to be with family, friends and for relaxation, a big issue with this age group. But first, let’s look at who is the millennial generation.

Those born in the 80’s and 90’s are defined by different names but generally, this age range can be classified as millennials. Under age 35, they represent the ‘me generation’, or as Jean Twenge tags them in her book of the same title: Generation Me. Twenge notes that they were raised on the premise to ‘’just be yourself’. Focusing on themselves more so than on others can lead them to be self-absorbed with the attitude ‘if it’s good for me, it’s good for everyone else’. This view plays a large part in their attitudes towards work. While Boomers tend to live to work, GenMe works to live, viewing their job as a way to fund the things they enjoy about life rather than finding joy in their work. In order to fund their lifestyle, they want high paying jobs but are not necessarily willing to work for it. In her research for Generation Me, Twenge found that millennials held expectations of the ‘best job with the most pay and the least amount of work’. Asked to name 5 qualities of their generation during interviews, ‘lazy’ almost always made the top five.

An aspect that we see most in our work with succession candidates (and this is not limited to the millennial generation), is unearned expectations, or in a word, entitlement. Millennials grew up in an era of praise and grade inflation, resulting in highly-positive self-views. Their expectation is that praise will continue after they enter the workforce.

Twenge found millennials’ over-confidence and impatience unfathomable at times. They believe that working hard in school means they are ‘entitled to a good job’. In one study, 40% of millennials believed they should be promoted every two years, no matter what their performance. Part of this behavior is fueled by attempts to treat all kids the same when they are growing up, regardless of abilities and accomplishments. In speaking with a dealer who was attempting to describe his kids’ entitlement attitude, he pointed to a generation that ‘expects a trophy for just showing up’.

Based on a study of 40,000 millennials, the reality of life, difficulty finding jobs that meet their expectations, along with not forging and maintaining close relationships, is creating anxiety and depression which is predicted to be a 15-20% lifetime rate (or higher) with this generation. Blame the social media environment in which they live that minimizes face-to-face interaction and close relationships. I was driving home from the airport recently and heard a radio segment where the hosts lamented the fact that young staff do not return pleasantries, not even a simple ‘hello’ when spoken to. They are not used to face to face contact with anyone other than close friends nor accustomed to the social structure of work relationships.

Before we blame millennials for crushing our work culture, we can thank them for some current trends. They are credited with the birth of casual Fridays (or everyday casual in some cases), flatter hierarchies, treating employees with greater respect, and a greater focus on work/life balance. The truth is that we do take less vacation than our European counterparts, ‘who place more value on enjoying life’. In fact, the U.S. is the only developed nation that does not mandate paid time off. I know what you are thinking: ‘heresy!’ Call it what you will, we need to adapt our work environment to attract this younger generation and in the process, we may just make everyone’s work lives a bit more enjoyable.

In our next segment, we will focus on how to address the issues outlined in this article in order to attract and retain the millennial generation worker along with how that affects the succession process.

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References: Generation Me, Jean M. Twenge, PhD; The Trophy Kids Grow Up, Ron Alsop

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