This might come as a surprise, but the generation that makes up the highest portion of the US workforce is now the Millennial. That’s you!
As of 2015, Millennials, also known as Gen Ys, have overtaken Gen Xs and Baby Boomers to represent just over a third of the total US workforce. Furthermore, by 2025, Gen Y will represent 75% of the global workforce, according to Deloitte’s Big demands and high expectations: What generation Y wants from business, government, and the future workplace report.
Paradoxically, despite the majority share of the workforce, Millennials are the worst engaged employees than any other generation and from a human resources and marketing view-point, represent the most difficult group with which to try and engage.
It’s been a big issue for employers for a few years now and continues to be a huge talking point: do a quick search on “How do I engage Gen Y” and the result is pages upon pages of articles detailing how to engage (or not to bother) with Gen Y in the workplace.
Take a look at what I searched for again. I asked (and I am aware you don’t need to literally ask questions in a search engine) how to engage with Gen Y. That could mean a whole bunch of things, like how do I engage Gen Y in conversation, in marketing, in university, or any other combination of things. And yet, the highest-ranking results are all about the workforce. Like I said: big issue.
There are lots of factors as to why Millennials have such low engagement rates, much of it to do with a values mismatch between employers and employees. Generally, you believe in causes, want creativity, open dialogues, work-life balance and a sense of achievement. Baby Boomers on the other hand are generally work-centric, believe in prestige and self-actualisation, and while they share a focus on goals with Gen Y, are less inclined to collaboration. I also think it’s important to recognise younger Gen Ys are more likely to be in a low- to no-skills jobs, such as retail and hospitality, which realistically aren’t going to be meeting what they need to elicit engagement.
There’s a few ways to look at this, the most popular of which is to put the focus on what employers are doing to engage with you, but I think opportunity lies within problems:
Heaps of companies want to engage with you. Go engage with them!
Of course, it isn’t as simple as just walking out the door and screaming “I want to engage with you” with the expectation the next recruitment manager will give you a job, or at least I hope it isn’t. You’ll still need to do research and think about where you want to work, what industry you want to work in, which companies are meeting your values and which of those genuinely want to engage with you, but it’s an interesting prospect. Employers are looking, just wave your hands.
This actually came up during my interview with Anna from Navitas for the member’s only LinkedIn Make-over special (sign-up now to get some awesome tips for your profile). Although it eventually got cut, she recommended Emi, who is currently working as an admin assistant, use LinkedIn to highlight her level of engagement through sharing content about her company and industry. There are much broader applications to this advice.
Showing your interest in your current job, even if it isn’t one that you intend to make a career out of, is a good sign you’ll be engaged in your next, whether that is through a different employer or, in the case you are already working where you want to be, through a promotion. Even better, showing your interest in your next job goes a long way towards proving you’re a superstar graduate employee.
There is a down side, though. I deliberately chose to highlight social media as an opportunity, partly because of the LinkedIn Make-over special (sign up!), but mainly because Gen Y has grown up with it while marketers and recruiters have struggled. You’re native, you like to share content and that can make you a company superstar, but there might be a few things in your digital history that make you a less desirable potential employee. For their struggles with social media, hiring managers know when a line has been crossed. This is becoming more important as 93% of them will look at your profiles at some stage.
There’s a lot to go through, but, Successful Graduate covers both regular social media, like Facebook and Twitter, as well as professional social media, LinkedIn. It also helps you to start thinking about what you need in an employer and what they need in you.
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