Finding good employees has never been easy. When it comes to millennials, it seems nearly impossible.
PMPs said they now cycle through more potential hires to find one who fits and who’s also willing to perform the physical parts of the job. Then, once workers become competent and efficient, they leave, which is expensive and frustrating. One manager said this limits his company’s growth: The potential to grow is there but the people he needs to make it happen are not.
“Our research indicates that millennials across the board are changing jobs up to three times as much as people in previous generations would have by the age of 30,” said Sean Lyons, associate professor of leadership and organizational management at the University of Guelph, Ontario, and a global expert in generational differences.
For any job that requires an apprenticeship or craft training where someone has to learn the ins and outs by doing, “the risk of hiring young people is incredibly high,” said Lyons.
Why? Lyons said this generation exhibits a “pattern of anxiety and insecurity” when it comes to jobs. “There’s the sense that the grass is greener somewhere else and no matter how many times they move they still feel that they could do better,” he said.
They’ve been told (and have seen with their parents and grandparents) that life-long career opportunities no longer exist and not to count on the promise of future benefits. As a result, millennials “jump from job to job looking for a set of experiences that will help them get what they’re looking for in terms of experience, pay and working conditions,” said Lyons.
And they’re really concerned with job prestige and status, much more so than previous generations. A lot of that very tangible pressure comes from their helicoptering parents, said Lyons. Tell them you’ve gotten a job in pest control and “I think a lot of young people would probably get pushback from their parents, who’d say, ‘That’s not what we had hoped for you,’” he explained. This would not have been the case two generations ago, when the response would have been more like, ‘That’s an honest day’s work and hopefully you can work your way up to management,’” he explained.
Another factor: Many millennials treat their first jobs out of university as starter jobs because an increasingly large number have never worked before. Older generations figured out how to “deal with all the things you deal with in having a job” while in high school, said Lyons, but “summer employment among high school students is at an all-time low.” It’s even unusual to come across university students who work, he said. Without that early McDonald’s employment experience, many are figuring this all out at the age of 22.
SO WHAT’S AN EMPLOYER TO DO? Lyons offered four ways to attract and keep millennial employees:1. Fish in the right pond. Generalities aside, hardworking, industrious millennials do exist. But while 30 years ago pest management professionals could have used a net to catch a bunch of young people who’d take a job, today you’ve got to fish with a line using the right bait in the right place, said Lyons. A mass-market approach to recruitment doesn’t work; you need to develop a strategic way to target young people who fit your niche employment needs.
One place to look: rural communities, where job opportunities are more limited but people, especially farm kids, have traditional work ethics and aren’t put off by physical labor. And while research shows that not having transportation most often prevents these folks from taking a job, “that’s an easily solvable problem if it’s going to get you loyal, long-term employees,” said Lyons. Being able to drive home a service vehicle is one solution. Another is providing a small signing bonus or allowance that lets a new hire buy a used car, which also conveys immediate prestige, he said.
In addition, think about your successful new hires and enlist their help. Who are these employees? What can you learn from them to reach more like them? Can they recruit like-minded individuals for you? People tend to hang out with people like themselves, so develop an employee referral program and start generating word of mouth, said Lyons.
2. Create a smaller-step progression. “By far in all of the studies I’ve done in the last 15 years, the highest priority for millennials has always been opportunities for advancement. And it continues to be even though they’re already in their 30s,” said Lyons. As a group, they very much need to see some reward for their efforts. In fact, a study found young workers would rather have four smaller raises than one larger raise over a two-year period, he said. If they work in the same job for even a year — an enormous amount of time in their minds — and don’t see any advancement, any change in their status or their pay, they’ll leave, he explained.
To counter this, Lyons advised developing a smaller-step process of advancement, providing smaller, more frequent raises and title changes that recognize a change in status. This probably doesn’t require a change in how a company operates; rather it’s a change in mindset for most small businesses, like having multiple levels of technician positions: junior assistant, junior, intermediate, senior, assistant supervising, etc. Remember, millennials don’t want to wait to gain status; that’s what is making them leave, said Lyons. And while some pest management professionals may think such titles are an artificial inflation of responsibility, they do show employees that their skills and responsibilities are increasing and that they are progressing on the prescribed career path.
3. Make relationships count. What makes people stay in a job? Often it comes down to relationships. Mentoring and grooming go a long way with a generation needy for nurturing and applause. As such, make high-touch opportunities to provide feedback and engage employees as a regular part of managers’ routines. Give younger workers the leeway to develop new ideas, and guide them along in this process.
Some PMPs may question why they have to recognize people for just d-o-i-n-g t-h-e-i-r j-o-b-s, but recognizing good work when you see it is good management practice, reminded Lyons. When a person feels respected and trusted and gets along well with her supervisor, leaving for another job opportunity may not sound like such an easy move, he said.
4. Be open to returning workers. Sometimes employees leave only to find the other opportunity wasn’t what they hoped. As such, be “ready to welcome people back,” said Lyons. This is a chance to recoup your investment in training, plus gain an employee with more experience, skills and a greater appreciation for the company.
“Keep in touch with the people who do leave and don’t get hurt feelings about their leaving. If you treat them like a traitor and write them off and say bad things about them, you lose the opportunity to bring them back,” said Lyons.
The author is a frequent contributor to PCT magazine.
8 Demographic Trends That Will Change Your Company
Consumers are changing — more quickly than you realize — and this promises to impact every part of your business.
Today’s consumer is evolving rapidly and this means big changes for your business, from how you talk to, target and service clients to the way you hire and retain employees.
“Brands are going to have to keep up,” said Justin LaBorde, vice president of advisory services at The Futures Company, which helps businesses profit from consumer shifts. “Businesses that don’t are going to be left behind and become quickly irrelevant,” he said.
LaBorde outlined eight demographic game changers to heed now:
1. Polyculturalism. The U.S. quickly is becoming a very multicultural and diverse marketplace. “People are open to this; they’re combining all these different influences together with their own pride and heritage” to create “a new polycultural experience,” said LaBorde.
Take Away: Embrace consumers’ ethnicity and culture, as well as that of your own company. A multicultural workforce can help forge relationships with customers and be a wellspring of creativity for the brand.
Ethnicity By The Numbers
- 8.2 million People in 2015 who identified as two or more races, projected to be the fastest-growing U.S. race group by 2060
- 49% U.S. kids age 15 and under who belonged to a race or ethnic minority group in 2015
- > 50% All Americans projected to belong to a race or ethnic minority group by 2044
- 1 in 5 Number of U.S. residents projected to be foreign born by 2060
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
2. Diverse household structures. The rise in single-person and multigenerational households and the decrease in the number of children living in traditional family households has “huge implications” for all kinds of companies, said LaBorde.
Take Away: New household dynamics influence everything from child rearing to the type of houses people want, the products they put in them and the services they choose to protect them. Targeting the traditional nuclear family won’t be your best bet in 10 to 20 years, added LaBorde.
Living By The Numbers
- 60.6 million: Americans living in multigenerational households in 2014
- 46%: U.S. kids under 18 years who are living in a home with two married heterosexual parents in their first marriage
- 46%: Two-parent households where both parents work full time
- 34%: Children living with an unmarried parent, up from 9% in 1960 and 19% in 1980
- 35 million: People who lived alone in 2015
- 7 million: Unmarried-partner households in 2014
Source: Pew Research; Deloitte; U.S. Census Bureau
3. New relationship models. The traditional romantic relationship — one man and one woman for life — is “really shifting if you look at the micro-demographic trends” that include rising divorce rates, the emergence of LGBT groups, and younger generations’ tendency to delay or forgo marriage, said LaBorde. Relationships in the next 15 years “will be quite different,” he said.
Take Away: Be aware of how this shift may necessitate changes in how you promote your service and communicate with customers. For employees, make sure your human resources policies and handbooks are up-to-date with new regulations.4. Blurring gender roles. Men are taking on more family and domestic priorities and women are assuming more roles outside the home, said LaBorde.
Take Away: “Stereotypes need to be rethought; think more broadly,” he advised. If you’ve traditionally reached out to women using a certain tone and language, it may not resonate as well going forward as it has in the past.
5. Flexible life cycles. Generations habitually followed a consistent life cycle: attend school, move out, get married, buy a house, have kids and so on. “Millennials came along and really just jumbled all of that up,” said LaBorde. They may go to college for six years instead of four or not at all, have kids first or cohabitate and then get married. They defy tradition, he said.
Take Away: “You have to be open to the ways they want to be spoken to,” said LaBorde of millennials. Adopt “a more flexible kind of communication” that appeals to this group or your messages will fall flat, he said.
6. Multi-generational workforce. Multiple generations with very different mindsets, definitions of success and employer requirements now work alongside one another. Millennials are the biggest group and they want different things in terms of career challenges, career paths, benefits, tenure.
Take Away: Many companies are struggling with this issue; resolving it will require “a give and take on both sides,” said LaBorde.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau; Pew Research
Millennials By The Numbers
- 83.7 million: Americans in the millennial generation, born between 1982 and 2000
- 31%: Adults age 25-29 living in multigenerational households, the most likely age group to do so
- 2015: The year millennials became the largest generational group in the U.S. workplace
7. Complex identities. Old labels are no longer flexible enough to account for the “wide, increasingly complex identities” people have when it comes to their gender, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation and more, said LaBorde, who calls this trend “the big blend.” Even the U.S. Census Bureau is struggling with this.
Take Away: It is becoming increasingly difficult to define and understand specific target groups, such as the urban millennial or stay-at-home mom. Connecting with these audiences will require “a new level of customization” in communications, said LaBorde.
8. Aging population. Baby boomers have transformed every life stage they’ve entered, including getting old. “They’re going to redefine aging how they want to redefine it” and will not go quietly like previous generations, said LaBorde.
Take Away: Boomers will remain engaged, active and many will choose to age in place; they will demand that brands continue to speak to them. Companies that target the senior population will need to change their tone and service offerings.
Aging By The Numbers
- 47.8 million: Americans aged 65 and older in 2015
- 1 in 5: Americans projected to be 65 and older by 2030
(Source: U.S. Census Bureau; based on 2015 data)
FINAL TAKE AWAYS. Think about how you market or communicate right now and think about how well that style or that method or those communications align with these trends,” LaBorde said. Most likely, there’s work to be done in terms of “the product (or service) that we have and how to innovate it” and “how we’re marketing to our customers,” he added.