There are few things that we are reminded of as frequently as the opinion that the millennial generation (those between the ages of 22 and 37 years old in 2018) is inherently different than those who came before them. When a group of managers was asked to describe millennials in one word, the responses received were unflattering (to put it mildly).
What you may be surprised to hear is that the same adjectives used to describe millennials today are the same adjectives used to describe the younger generation in 1990. “Lazy, entitled, selfish, shallow… [who] have trouble making decisions” is a quote taken from the Time article “The Next Generation” in the summer of 1990. Life Magazine, in 1968, had a similar article using the same descriptors with the up-and-coming generation of that era.
The true issue may not be generational, after all. The difference may be that as we age, we choose to take on additional responsibilities and zoom our lens out to view a larger picture. In doing so, we tend to shift our career focus from personal priorities (do peace, equality, or civil rights ring any bells?) to organizational priorities – a natural progression of sorts.
For employers, this is fantastic news; common ground exists. Many ideals most important to the young generation of today are the same ideals we held dear in our younger years – meaningful work, social justice, diversity, and the importance of education. In fact, the millennial generation has repeatedly shown the rest of us that they are more focused on personal and career growth and less focused on marriage and family – something never-before-seen in the workforce-entering generation.
In our industry specifically, we have no time to waste in welcoming this generation into our organizations. While the aviation industry loses mechanics and pilots daily to retirement and burn out, the logical place to recruit these replacements is in the generation that everyone loves to hate: millennials. Truth be told, we need them more than they need us – and it’s our responsibility to begin advocating and recruiting this generation to join our industry before it’s too late. Below are my five steps to creating a millennial-friendly workplace:
- Evaluate your mission. By injecting a personal feel into your brand – community outreach, charity work, and living your company values – you will not only define your company, but also attract talent that places importance on giving back (which has its own set of perks).
- Review your benefits. Money isn’t everything, so review what you’re offering. You may find that you attract better talent with better benefits, vacation time, tuition reimbursement, retirement plans, career development opportunities, or flex scheduling.
- Be prepared for departure. In aviation specifically, we all know that the supply of career opportunities is in excess of talent. It’s your responsibility as the employer to create an environment that entices your employees to stay, instead of going to your competition.
- Embrace technology. The inevitable result of the computer age, the faster you are able to incorporate technology into your organization, the more efficient and millennial-friendly your workplace will become.
- Last but not least, listen. Truly listening to your employees and evaluating their feedback seems simple enough, but to this generation it means even more. Improving processes and promoting growth of your organization are two by-products of simply opening your ears to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly of your company’s day to day from those on the front lines (or at least, those closer to them than you).
The aviation industry doesn’t have the luxury of being selective. We need to overcome our workforce shortage with optimism and resourcefulness, not stereotypical judgement. The fact is that things are projected to get worse before they get better. By adapting your workplace to welcome millennials with open arms and minds will only help you weather the storm.
Content by: Lindsay Nixon, President, MROinsider.com – firstname.lastname@example.org – December 18, 2018