Posted on Jun 23 , 2015

Working with, Hiring and Retaining Millennials


If you speak with many Baby Boomers, they will often unapologetically complain about Millennials.  But in business situations, they become even more vocal: they don’t know how to work with them, nor how to keep them happy so they will stay.   Meanwhile, the Millennials don’t understand why the Baby Boomers won’t take the time to understand them and their needs.   And they have no patience waiting for the understanding to take place.

We had a lively discussion that offered suggestions of how to solve some of those people challenges in media, entertainment and technology companies.  The program and panel were developed by Susan Goldberg, Principal and Owner of SGES, a specialist in culture and employment who had experienced the push and pull of the discussion in working with her clients and colleagues, and had co-written a leadership book targeting non-traditional business minds (like Millennials) called “Leadership in Wonderland”.

Our panel, hosted by Gavin McElroy,  Chair of the Executive Compensation and Employment Group at Frankfurt Kurnit, and  held at the Frankfurt Kurnit offices consisted of Gavin, Susan, and two Millennials with executive titles and roles at media companies, Amy Wu, COO and CFO of Newscred and Brendan Spain, US Commercial Director for the Financial Times. What follows is a brief summary of what we discussed.

Issues with Millennials stem from the way they view the world which is on the spot and in front of them.  This is due not only to technological influences, and navigating through sensory overload, but to influences in culture, families, education, and political and business views which are all short term in and immediate in nature.  This causes this age group to have a lack of understanding of long term thinking, which impacts reputation, consequences, patience, and perspective in general.

What Millennials can bring, however, is intelligence, technology savviness, digital dexterity, ability to follow directions closely and concentrate undeterred by outside disturbances,  a desire to solve problems, dedication to social causes, an appreciation for constant communication, and an understanding of the resources and environment they need to make their best efforts at work.

The best ways that companies can hire and retain Millennials is to understand who they are and not try to change them.  That means understanding their high turnover in employment and what causes that.  And because of that turnover, make use of what the Millennials have to offer before they move on.

Two different ways to retain Millennials at your company:  establish a vesting schedule in compensation which locks in your employees for a specific period of time or give Millennials projects which are interesting to them, offer them continuous feedback and communication, and also autonomy and  flexibility in their lifestyle.

Overall, there needs to be a long term talent or people management plan for every company which should plan for expected high rate of turnover in this age group. Along with that comes an appreciation and an understanding of those who are not typical Millennials and where they fit in an organization.  There needs to be a mix of talent if a company is to create a legacy and survive in the long term.

Millennials bring a different energy, and different views towards balancing life, work and happiness.  Perhaps they can also teach the rest of us to bring more happiness to our lives, better transparency, feedback and communication, more flexibility and that an organization needs more than Millennial talent to thrive.