Many members of Generation Y, better known as Millennials – loosely defined as those born since the early 1980s – are considered by many employers to be lacking in real-world skills. EA professionals seeking to entrench themselves in their clients’ organizations may wish to consider promoting the use of older mentors to coach younger employees. Improved communication, teamwork, and productivity can be expected to result. (More on that in Part II of this series.)
What real-life skills do hiring managers feel are absent among many Millennials? They cite the following: 1) Organization; 2) Communication; 3) Leadership; 4) “Street smarts”; and 5) Personal finance.
The following is a description of each.
* Organization. Companies expect their employees to be able to manage their time so that they can get all of their work done each day. This requires prioritizing multiple projects and assignments in a cohesive manner.
* Communication. Written and oral communication is a daily requirement for any job. These skills have changed since the advent of texting, instant messaging, email, and other forms of electronic communication. The problem is, the conversations of many younger people have become unfocused, casual, and imprecise. It is not unusual for employers to have to give basic writing lessons to new hires as a solution to this problem.
* Leadership. A leader is a person who takes responsibility to get a job done. But being a leader does not require a management position, and it is not a skill learned only in classes. Rather, this skill relies on the desire of new employee to excel in their careers.
* “Street smarts.” What was once common sense is no longer the case. Certain things that are considered inappropriate for the workplace are common among this generation. Examples include wearing earbuds or corresponding directly to the CEO. The thinking is, everyone is accessible through social media, even the POTUS so it doesn’t seem like such a big deal to Millennials to send an email to the company CEO.
* Personal finance. Thorough background checks are often carried out on potential hires, even credit score checks. The belief is that personal finance is reflected in an individual’s level of responsibility. Many college graduates wish they had learned more about the skill of salary negotiation, stock option plans, apartment lease agreements, and employee benefit choices.
Overall, employers mainly want Millennials to learn more about workplace etiquette, according to Amanda Griffin, author of Millennials Lack Knowledge for the Real World. “Observe the way people dress, communicate, check their phones during meetings, to better understand what is expected of you,” she states.
Griffin suggests that employers hold professional etiquette training sessions and/or provide mentors for their new Millennial hires. (The EA professional may be in a position to assist.)
Part II in this series will examine how to mentor Millennials.