If you’ve attended any industry function lately, you’ve noticed that conversations invariably include discussions about the shortage of skilled gear designers and the difficulty to hire or retain the needed talent. This problem is not new; however, for the organizations that comprehend the generational differences and tailor their recruiting strategies, they will be well-positioned ahead of their competitors.
Background and Statistics
As the baby boomers’ rate of retiring accelerates and Generation X moves deeper into management, the hiring of Generation Y (or the millennials) becomes a growing necessity. The specialty skills of gear design compounded by the unique characteristics of the millennials can make filling a position seem impossible at times.
Today, more than one in three American workers are millennials (adults ages 18 to 35), and they have surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce (see Figure 1). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that millennials will make up approximately 75 percent of the workforce by 2030.
In order to design an effective hiring strategy, a look at the generational characteristics will help you appreciate the values and differences of each generation. The table below is a brief overview.
Millennials, especially engineers and designers, look for a collaborative team-setting where everyone works toward a common goal within a respectful environment. Common traits include: they embrace innovation, utilize technology, look for interesting companies, thrive on flexibility in their workweek, have significant student debt, are usually under-employed (highly educated, in general), and have a high expectation or entitlement of the workplace. They will also change jobs if they feel it doesn’t fit with their values, and typical tenure is one to three years.
Understanding how millennials communicate is also important. Most do not own a landline and would rather text than make a call. According to a report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, millennials check their devices over 40 times each day, and 80 percent sleep near their phones.
This generation is digitally connected and dependent; therefore, your company must be tuned in to how they think. Here are some do’s and don’ts to consider:
- Embrace multiple digital channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. It’s also important to monitor your social media presence to make sure your feedback is favorable — more than 90 percent of millennials are active on social media.
- Make it easy to apply online, and be sure your message is formatted for all forms of mobile devices, especially smartphones.
- Be receptive to having a highly flexible workplace. Flexible hours, generous telecommute policies, and comp time are becoming more expected. Millennials assume a work-life balance from day one.
- Design venues for the millennials to contribute and be heard.
- Have a structured onboarding procedure that assigns a skilled and experienced mentor.
- Design opportunities to keep millennials technologically current and competitive. They value online learning opportunities that can be accomplished off-site or during a commute.
- Because millennials are eager to advance in the organization, consider more frequent, but smaller promotional opportunities with commensurate levels of responsibility and raises. A clear advancement path is essential.
- Be sure that middle managers provide more frequent feedback and mentoring — as millennials require a need for this in their work.
- Create opportunities to diversify their work experiences and exposure. Consider rotational learning opportunities within the company and abroad if you have global locations.
- Create teams with a mix of generations to provide learning opportunities within your company.
- Expose your gear designers and engineers to challenging projects that allow them to hone their skills and develop ownership.
- Use formats that are not compatible with mobile devices to communicate your message, brand, and opportunities.
- Neglect managing your online presence, referrals, and feedback on social sites.
- Underestimate the power of work-life balance.
- Offer traditional perks with an unbalanced emphasis on salary, or neglect to tailor and promote custom perks.
- Restrict off-site and variable work-hour options.
- Separate your design teams generationally.
Millennials are becoming the largest portion of the workforce while the demand for gear designers continues to grow. In order to capitalize on the limited supply of talent, it is essential that your company understands the values of millennials and what drives them. Developing strategies tailored to this generation is critical to the continued growth of your company.