Millenials, Onboarding and Ice Cream Cones

There are a couple ways to look at Millenials entering the workforce today.

Either a) you have a bunch of delusional, texting, Facebooking employees who have unrealistic expectations that they will be CEO in 2 years and feel they are entitled to getting everything they want, or b) you have an emerging number of  employees full or energy and enthusiasm who want to find new ways to break into the corporate world and make a difference.

No matter how you look at it, working with Millennials is an inevitable truth of your career now and in the future. Trust me, I know all about it … I am a dreaded “Millennial.”

Setting your millennial new hires off on the right foot could mean the difference between having an employee who stays with your company for years to come instead of being a job switching newbie that moves on to another company in a year ~ or less!

It starts with onboarding.

Here are some keys to successfully on-boarding millennial employees and ensuring we are key contributors for the foreseeable future and not employees who quit after a few months (aka a waste of your company’s valuable resources.)

  • Emphasize our impact. Millennials love to make a difference. We are used to being given responsibility and (most) want to leave our mark on whatever we work on. Make sure to focus us on the great things we can do in our new job and how it is important within the scope of the rest of the company.
  • Test us out. Some sink or swim is good. During the on-boarding process and within the first few months in a new job it is a good idea to separate the best from the rest. While ultimately you want to set your new employees toward success it is also a good idea to find ways to see what we are made of. Some handholding is good, but the longer you hold our hands that more we depend on you and the farther we may fall after you finally let go.
  • Provide recognition and a constant feedback loop. We grew up hearing about how great we are (often times just for participating in things). Whether right or wrong, it created this desire to have our egos stroked. When on-boarding a millennial it is good to recognize our previous accomplishments (specific to each individual, if possible) while also sharing any recognition programs available that we could expect to work toward.
  • Set expectations – we tend to have great imaginations This is a big one. Coming out of college (or from another company) we have no idea how things work at your company. Offer us some insights into what we should expect (both good and bad). It will help us transition and become accustomed to our new environment. It also will lead us to staying with the company longer because there are fewer surprises that we may react to by leaving.
  • Mix in fun. Things are being “game-ified” left and right in market today. People are even given “badges” for normal human sustaining activity like eating (ala FourSquare). If there is any way to spice up the on-boarding process with games, activities or some sort of tracking rewards, the level of engagement from millennials increases exponentially.

To offer an analogy, think about each piece of advice listed above in relation to an ice cream cone. Let us (Millennials) hold the ice cream cone (sink or swim) and keep telling us we are doing a great job at holding and eating the ice cream cone (constant feedback & recognition). Share with us the importance of the ice cream (impact) and remind us that ice cream melts (expectations). Moreover, we all know that ice cream cones are bunches of fun!

Use these techniques and maintain the mindset that Millennial employees are more emerging than delusions and you will see improvements in the level of engagement and swiftness of transition into new jobs for Millennials entering your company’s workforce.

Photo credit iStockphoto

About the author: Aaron McDaniel (aka “Mr. Business”) is the author of the Young Professional’s Edge blog (YP Edge). He is a corporate director, entrepreneur, public speaker, community volunteer and avid world traveler. Aaron has experience in sales, customer care, marketing, operations, strategy and business development. You can follow Aaron on Twitter as @MrBiz.

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I loved all of your points- especially about “mixing in fun.” I think this is a crucial part of the onboarding process

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