Managing Millennials & Moving On

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We’re inundated on a daily basis with content on millennials – a pervasive, complex, and reviled group of workers. So, I’ve been brainstorming about a key takeaway and what I could possibly say at this point that’s novel. I landed on a simple call to action: move on.

Here’s the deal: with the oldest millennials being about 36 years old, we finally have some definitive research on their workplace behaviors and can compare them to previous generations. Here’s the summary: there is little to no difference in levels of narcissism, job tenure, or work ethic amongst millennials and previous generations in their twenties. It turns out, all youth is narcissistic, indecisive, and distracted.

Okay, okay. You need evidence. After all, I’m a millennial – why trust me?

Most of the studies you see compare millennials to the current feelings and behaviors of Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers. A study cited in Business Insider just this week provides a perfect example. “Daymon Worldwide notes that millennials are more obsessed with being unique and standing out than their parents and grandparents are.” (http://www.businessinsider.com/differences-between-boomers-gen-x-and-millennials-2016-6) I hope they didn’t spend a lot of money on that research because if I compare any 25 year old and their 75 year old Nana, I would certainly hope their level of maturity and narcissism differed.

In regards to the job-hopping, Baby Boomer’s actually changed jobs in their twenties at the same rate that millennials do now (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/nlsoy.pdf)! Let me demystify this: young people usually take whatever job they can get starting off. They don’t know what they want to do long-term and millennials came of age during a recession where if you didn’t take whatever job you could get, you were perpetually unemployed. (Unemployed = no brunch. Millennials love brunch).

Lastly, millennials work differently but they are not aggregately lazy. Lazy is a really loaded word and I don’t have the space to enumerate the dangers of characterizing an entire group as something derogatory, so use your own intuition here. Every time you’re tempted to say “lazy”, replace it with “different.” Because the truth is millennials are very different from previous generations in their beliefs about work. We don’t always subscribe to traditional hours. We value work-life balance and sometimes prioritize it over a demanding career. We want to understand the why’s behind what we’re doing because we need purpose. Are these good qualities? Bad? Admirable? I don’t know exactly, but aren’t all those statements what people tell us to prioritize after it’s too late for them to change? Spend more time with your family. Do something you love. Work hard, but set boundaries.

On the upside, you’ll also find that we answer late-night emails. Because we grew up with technology, we constantly look for ways to be more efficient. When we find our passion, we’ll work however many hours it takes. The key for employers is to harness that passion and not let vintage expectations drive away a talented workforce.

So, that’s it. There’s your answer. Young people are needy and kind of difficult to work with and they always will be. Maybe in a few years I’ll be blogging on the pains of Gen Zer’s. Que sera, tale as old as time. Let’s stop dwelling it on it now.

Written by: Hannah Barfield Spellmeyer

Reference Checks: One of the Most Important Pieces to the Pre-hire Puzzle

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We have all heard the phrase, “past performance predicts future performance” and I feel the easiest way to gauge future performance is from relying heavily on reference feedback. Whether you are a recruiter, HR professional, hiring manager or simply conducting interviews for your organization, checking references on potential employees is a must. Below are some tips, pulled greatly from past experience, on how to get the most out of checking references:

 

  • If a candidate cannot provide a readily available list of references, this may be a red flag. Most understandably, candidates that are currently working are not going to list their current employer and shouldn’t be expected to. However, if someone is actively job seeking and interviewing, they should have a prepared list of contacts to provide you to ensure someone can vouch for their work ethic throughout the pre-hire process.
  • A thorough reference list will include a great amount of diversity in the contacts listed. For example, being able to provide more than one contact from past jobs, contacts from all past jobs, and different levels of employees they worked with in those jobs, including both former co-workers and supervisors, is hugely helpful. It is also important that the candidate has made these contacts aware they are listed as a reference on their behalf. Nothing is worse than catching someone completely unaware of the reason for your call!
  • Keep it professional–nothing personal and stick with facts.
  • Remember to start by verifying the information provided by the candidate and then move into questions related to their specific performance in the role and with the company (some examples below). Additionally, when interviewing a candidate for a specific role, be sure to dig a little deeper into how their past performance will relate to what they may eventually do within your organization.

o   Are the company names, dates of employment, and titles correct?

o   How was their overall performance in the specific role? (Does title listed and job duties provided mirror feedback coming from the reference?)

o   How did they treat both fellow employees and external customers?

o   Were they prompt and reliable with work product and in regards to meeting deadlines?

o   Did they adhere to office culture and standards: attendance, dress code, etc.?

o   Are there any concerns? (Concerns are not always negative and may be helpful in determining how to train and ensure immediate success in the new role.)

o   Are they eligible for rehire? (Or sometimes can be phrased as, “would you hire or work with them again?” depending on the relationship of the candidate to the contact).

  • If you do uncover negative feedback in a reference, it may not be a “deal breaker,” but not worth ignoring. In this case, ask the candidate for more reference contacts as it is worth researching further to see if the feedback has validity and is consistently received.

 

Candidates that have done the necessary due diligence in providing prompt, thorough, and detailed reference information will undoubtedly be heavily considered for any job!

Written by: Rebecca Faulk