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June 25, 2018

Small Business Advice

Understanding the millennial generation is key

Jerry Osteryoung | 4/15/2013

As the economy improves, business owners may begin seeing some turnover in their staff. Whether these employees are in search of higher salaries or simply choosing to make their move now that the job market is better, many young workers (those in the millennial generation) will want to migrate to new jobs.

Millennials (born after 1980) make up more than one-third of the workforce and they are a dominant force as consumers as well. For both these reasons, entrepreneurs need to pay careful attention to the desires and objectives of this generation.

Loyalty is not something that typically motivates millennials. Now that they no longer fear an anemic job market, many may view this as the opportunity to find employment that better suits their wants.

Businesses that do not know how to attract millennials may find themselves dealing with some turnover, and the cost of replacing these workers is incredibly high.

Millennials are not known to be the hardest of workers (unless properly motivated), but they do have a very large social conscience. It is critical that entrepreneurs understand this about millennials.

This group of workers needs to feel that the company they work for has a redeeming social purpose. They have seen the problems with unfettered capitalism and they see pure capitalism as a way for the rich to get richer without caring about the under-served in our country or the environment. To attract and retain this generation, businesses must become much more committed to being a fairer and better place to be employed.

During my seminars, I frequently ask participants to tell me what they feel is the most important thing about working for a company. Normally, the responses vary by age group. Baby boomers say they want more money, whereas millennials typically say they want to have a balanced life and be involved with a firm that cares about the environment or has a social conscience.

First Commerce Credit Union understands millennials and does a particularly good job developing practices that appeal to their sensibilities.

To be fair, I must disclose that I am chairman of the board of First Commerce and receive zero salary for this position. However, I can say without bias that they do a great job encouraging each of their team members to get involved with a nonprofit. Paid time off as well as financial support are provided as a means to encourage staff to be involved in the organizations of their choice.

Such national companies as Whole Foods, Panera, Starbucks, Nordstrom’s and Ben and Jerry’s demonstrate a clear understanding of how important it is that their businesses have social goals.

Now go out and make sure your strategic goals have significance both for your business and society. Failing to do so will put your business at risk.

You can do this!

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