Who Are Millennials? What You Need to Know to Attract the Young Top Talent to Your Company

If they’re not already, millennials are going to be a big part of your company’s growth. Here’s how to recruit this dynamic group.

There are 80 million millennials in the United States. There are 2.5 billion millennials worldwide. In 2016, the number of young professionals in Cleveland numbered more than 175,000 and this population growth outpaced total population growth, post-recession. Just by their scale alone, the millennial generation is a force that businesses need to be aware of.

But it extends beyond just sheer numbers. This group also shares a unique mindset as it relates to how they approach their career. The Generation Ys, The Millennials and the Gen Nexters. When recruiting and engaging these employees where do you begin? The best way to answer that question is to get a better idea of what is motivating the millennial generation as it is a generation with its own mindset. Research suggests that millennials have different aspirations with their work:

  • They want to make a difference.
  • They are achievement-oriented.
  • They stay in positions for only 1.8 years on average.

Now that we know a little more about this group, let’s go back to the original question above: How can employers recruit and engage this group? Let’s break it down bullet-by-bullet.

They want to make a difference

If you want to make a young professional happy, help her/him discover and connect to their purpose. One good way to do this is to use organizations such as Engage! Cleveland as an extension of your HR department. These organizations can introduce your millennial employee to difference-making opportunities that will help keep their batteries charged and make for a more satisfied employee. Research shows that employees who are engaged in their community are 2-3 times more likely to stay.

They are achievement-oriented

Related to the point above, establish creative ways to build professional skills such as getting involved in the nonprofit world. Show them how they can gain skills outside of the work place and how it will help their career. A Millennial might want to be a manager, but doesn’t currently manage other employees. As an example, managing volunteers can be more challenging than managing employees, so, if they can learn to manage volunteers at a nonprofit, they will be in a better position to someday manage employees. This is a check in the right column.

They stay in positions for only 1.8 years on average

If you recruit a millennial employee, you likely want that person to stick around as turnover is a big, scary word in HR. Older generations cared about one thing…drum roll please…MONEY! Salary increases aren’t the only way to increase a millennial’s job satisfaction. Offer a title change and other ways to impact their work and workplace. You might also consider other perks, such as additional vacation time or a flexible schedule. These “perks” that often don’t cost the company money are no brainers and lead to more satisfied employees.

Also, millennials value those companies that honor work-life balance and societal issues. Think about how your organization can best offer a good work-life balance mix and perhaps hold back a bit of salary in exchange. It could very well be a win win for both you and your Millennial employees.

A long-term force

Millennials are going to be a force on the employment scene for some time. Estimates show that 75% of the 2025 workface will be Millennials. So it is imperative, that you think through some of the items above and how they might intersect with your company’s philosophy and you will put your company in a good position to align yourself with millennial recruits.

And just in case you were getting tired of all of the Millennial data, don’t worry, Gen Z, those born between the mid 1990’s and mid 2000’s, will be entering the workforce soon with an entirely different set of priorities.

Ashley Basile Oeken is president of Engage! Cleveland, a nonprofit whose mission is to attract, engage and retain young, diverse talent to the Greater Cleveland area. Learn more about her organization’s work by clicking here.

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  • Next up: Who’s the Employer Here? Understanding What Constitutes ‘Joint Employer’ Status Under the NLRB
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  • Who’s the Employer Here? Understanding What Constitutes ‘Joint Employer’ Status Under the NLRB

    What does the reversal of the joint-employer standard mean for your business?

    Recently, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) reversed the joint-employer standard. That decision is likely to impact a number of industries and businesses across Northeast Ohio.

    First, some background. On Dec. 14 last year, the NLRB found two or more entities are joint employers only when it can be shown that one has control over the essential employment terms of another company’s employees. This standard also requires that the control be direct and immediate instead of indirect or limited.

    The recent ruling reversed the Browning-Ferris standard, which had held that a company, its contractors and franchisees could all be considered a “joint employer” for purposes of the National Labor Relations Act.

    The prior standard applied even if the company did not have control over the terms and conditions of a contractor’s or franchisee’s workers. Under Browning-Ferris, the NLRB could find that separate organizations could be joint employers if the primary company had just “indirect control” or an ability to have indirect control over related companies.

    The Browning-Ferris standard had far-reaching impact because the alleged wrongs of one company could be imputed to other companies if it was determined that even “indirect control” might have been exerted. Thus, joint liability could be imposed on all of the entities as part of a “joint employer” web.

    What does this mean?

    This latest reversal is prompting labor and employment attorneys to closely watch how future decisions are impacted. Perhaps the most notable of these cases involves fast food giant McDonald’s and the extent to which it controls its many franchises. This new standard is likely to impact not just the McDonald’s case, but many more just like it. Stay tuned, and we’ll update this issue with further developments as they arise.

    Max Rieker is an attorney at Walter | Haverfield who focuses his practice on labor and employment law. He can be reached at mrieker@walterhav.com or at 216-928-2972.

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  • Next up: Why Background Checks Are Important
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  • Why Background Checks Are Important

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  • Next up: Why I Mentor: The Lessons I Learned
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  • Why I Mentor: The Lessons I Learned

    When I volunteered for the True2U youth mentoring program I was told, “You’ll get as much out of this as the kids.”  I nodded agreeably, but was unprepared for how profound the experience would be. There were many moments that will never be forgotten: poems written; artwork created; vulnerabilities exposed; clever thoughts shared; curiosities explored; challenges met; and frustrations and mental blocks overcome all while self-awareness awareness dawned. However, two large lessons stand out. First, the overarching themes of True2U are as valid for adults as they are for teens. Second, what it takes to be a good mentor is what it takes to be a good human. 

    When I volunteered for the True2U youth mentoring program I was told, “You’ll get as much out of this as the kids.”  I nodded agreeably, but was unprepared for how profound the experience would be.

    There were many moments that will never be forgotten: poems written; artwork created; vulnerabilities exposed; clever thoughts shared; curiosities explored; challenges met; and frustrations and mental blocks overcome all while self-awareness awareness dawned. However, two large lessons stand out. First, the overarching themes of True2U are as valid for adults as they are for teens. Second, what it takes to be a good mentor is what it takes to be a good human.  

    In my opinion the point of True2U was guiding students to know and respect their strengths, deeply acknowledge their distinctive interests, combine those strengths and interests into an understanding of their unique selves and encourage taking action to explore where that will take them. (First priority being a commitment to choose, attend and graduate from high school.) Any person doing this work will find their purpose, their job, their career, their company, their tribe, their way to make a living, their further education and their destiny. We find and expand ourselves, but we cannot do it alone. It takes interaction and support. The genius behind True2U’s effectiveness is the two-layers of high expectations, high structure and high support provided to the students (through the program) and to the mentors (as the program). There is no better way to deepen and broaden your understanding of a subject than to teach it. I found this to be true and profoundly impactful.

    I had a confident, but naïve notion that the will and skill used to help develop my career would help me to be an effective mentor. That was partially true, but largely false. Some will and skill were required, but honest, patient, curious, caring presence is what allowed the most meaningful moments. I learned this on my first day. As I and my fellow mentors launched into the first exercise, I was seated at a table with four young women. They were chatting and laughing and doing what 8th graders do.  “OK, we’re going to…”, I started and stopped.  “This exercise is all about…”, I said stopping again. Nothing was capturing their attention. As a 26-year sales and marketing veteran, I’m KNOWN for starting conversations and I was stuck.

    So the internal dialogue starts: “What ARE you doing here?” Long pause. “I just want to be of some help to these students”.  “Well, that’s a nice intention. Why don’t you just sit patiently with that and see what happens?” So I did. Uncomfortably. It felt like a half hour, but was probably 3 minutes. I noticed one of the student’s hands were bright red. I asked why and learned that she liked to style hair and was coloring last night without gloves. We related that to the exercise which and that sparked the whole table’s engagement. Being patiently present with selfless intention was That established my way to connect to with each of the students.  and  I recognized this it as a deficiency in all of my relationships most of the time. Ouch. Big lesson. Fortunately, True2U supplied me with three 8-hour sessions to practice in.  Three times eight equals 24 hours in a day. Just one day. Seldom easy, but always valuable.

    In the end, Aimee, my wife, summed it up best. “Think of how much better you’ll do next year.” That “day” of mentoring felt like a lot more and what I learned in that “day” is well beyond what I have learned in most of the 24 hours periods in my lifetime… and I will be better next year.

    Learn more about how True2U impacts both sides of the mentoring partnership.

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  • Next up: Why Is it so Hard to Get People on Your Bus? Part Two: Controllers/CFOs, Quality Managers and Operations Managers
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  • Why Is it so Hard to Get People on Your Bus? Part Two: Controllers/CFOs, Quality Managers and Operations Managers

    If you read my prior blog relating to the same subject, but directed at Sales positions, you will no doubt recognize that a fair amount of what was said about getting the right sales people on your bus also applies to other positions.  The sad fact is that most small business owners don't do a very good search job in looking for people, and that starts a process which often leads to unsatisfactory results.

    If you read my prior blog relating to the same subject, but directed at Sales positions, you will no doubt recognize that a fair amount of what was said about getting the right sales people on your bus also applies to other positions.  The sad fact is that most small business owners don't do a very good search job in looking for people, and that starts a process which often leads to unsatisfactory results. 

    Controllers/Chief Financial Officers

    One firm I have advised over the years searched a full year for a Controller, interviewing sixteen (!) applicants before finding one who appeared to fit the organization's needs.   He was promised a review and raise after 90 days.  The owner quickly became unhappy with his work ethic.  The saying around the office was "don't stand by the door at 5 PM; he'll knock you over as he bolts for the parking lot."  One of the several things that most disturbed the CEO was the fact that he never quite completed tasks on schedule.  He was almost always late, sometimes by an hour, and sometimes by days.  She not only gave him the promised raise at 90 days in spite of her dissatisfaction, she didn't even fire him.  She suffered through almost two years of his behavior before he finally resigned to become someone else's problem. Why did it take so long?  The CEO admitted the search had taken so long and she was so uncomfortable with the financial/accounting side of the business, that she was willing to keep the "known devil", feeling her next choices would also result in sub-optimal behavior.  Interestingly, the salary she had been paying him would have easily attracted an experienced CPA!

    Another firm I have worked with wanted to hire a CFO.  The owner found a candidate.  He brought the candidate's resume to a Board of Directors' meeting.  One of the outside Directors noticed that the applicant had three years experience working for an out of state CPA firm.  That Director happened to know the Managing Partner of the CPA firm.  He called him.  The Managing Partner gave the candidate a less than glowing report.  The CEO/owner hired the candidate anyway against the advice of the Board.  [Side note: while this group was legally a Board of Directors, and therefore could have blocked the hire of a senior executive, in practice the Board functioned as a Board of Advisors because the CEO was the majority owner of the company and could override his Board's recommendations any time he wanted - as he frequently did.]  It took over two years for the CEO to finally fire the CFO, much to everyones' relief.

    Quality Managers

    The emphasis on quality is increasing important in today's business environment.  I recently reviewed the experience of an ISO certified firm that was faced with a significant problem with the scheduled review of its quality processes after the sudden resignation of its most skilled QC Manager.  The firm hired, through a respected search firm, a new hire to take his place.  By all background checks and interviews, this person was expected to be a solid replacement.  In his first week, it was quickly determined that he had a substance abuse problem.  Confronted, he promised to clean up his act.  And he did, for almost two weeks.  Luckily, he was sober enough to guide the quality audit.  Shortly thereafter he arrived at work too drunk to walk a straight line.  Rather than cut the losses, the firm chose to send him to rehab.  A month later, the man again relapsed.  He was terminated.  And so a new search began.  Another candidate, selected from a pool provided by another respected search firm, seemed to be the real deal. However, within three days of his hiring, he informed the CEO that he had lung cancer and needed some time off to deal with the medical problem.  A week later he returned to work, only to ask for a half day off for "personal business".  The half-day off was reluctantly granted.  Two more days passed when he again asked for another half-day off for more "personal business".  Again the request was granted.  A week later he was AWOL for four days.  He didn't inform his employer during that period that he would be absent.  On Friday of that AWOL week he arrived at the firm's headquarters dressed in a t-shirt and shorts.  He said he had been in another city doing personal things.  The story got even better when he told his supervisor that his first half-day off was spent buying his wife a Mercedes Benz car, and the second half-day was devoted to purchasing her some expensive jewelry. This man was hired in the mid-30K range. The man had been on the payroll for seven weeks and was absent for eight of the thirty-five work days.  He was finally terminated.  The search firm agreed to return the deposit on his hiring and credited the company with the other 50% of the fee towards another hire.  The ultimate irony: this man recently filed for unemployment compensation. As incredible as this story seems, I did not have to make it up!:   The company is still looking.

    Operations Managers

    One firm had a revolving door for Operations Managers.  Over a ten year period there were at least seven of them.  None satisfied the owner.  Desperate for a solution, the owner finally brought the problem to his newly created Board of Advisors.  They asked him some very pointed questions: (l) Do you have a job/position description of what you want your Operations Manager to do?  (2) Have you recruited and screened potential candidates against Gino Wickman's Traction process of " Gets It, Wants It, and has the Capacity to Do it"?  (3) Have you defined the Core Values of your firm to look at "fit" of the candidate for the job? 

    The answers to those questions were mostly "no".  He had done some systematic recruiting, but he mostly relied on word of mouth, friend referrals, and admitted he was batting well under 300 for a decade.  He wondered how he would ever make it to the Big Leagues. The Board recommended he change his process.  He took the rest of his management team through the Traction Core Values exercise, developed a cohesive set of standards to measure candidate fit, first by resume, next by background check, then personal interviews with key members of his management team, and finally a provisional offer of potential employment to the four candidates that got through a much more systematic and rigorous screening process than had ever been done before in his company. 

    Each of the four candidates were invited to become paid two day consultants to the firm.  Those two days were disguised as "outside consultants" to do what consultants do - walk the floor, ask questions, observe, evaluate and write a report to top management with recommendations on what they felt were areas of Strengths and Weaknesses and potential actions to ameliorate weaknesses and enhance strengths.  Compensation of $1500 was offered for the two days + the report.  Three of the four accepted the offer.   What happened?  One candidate was superior in his observations and recommendations.  However, in the two days, his behavior clashed significantly with the company's desired culture.  Candidates two and three were virtually tied in their performance on this assignment, with one appearing to fit much better than the other one.  The better fit man got the job.  The company got some great recommendations on changes that needed to be made.  Luckily, the new hire worked out well.  In part due to implementation of the series of recommendations suggested by the first candidate, cost of materials and labor as a percentage of sales decreased 7% over the first two years of his employment,  on-time delivery to customers rose from 91% to 97.5%, and rework/returns decreased by 50%. 

    It's nice to win once in a while!

    Some Analysis

    Employee selection is not an exact science.  The human factors all too frequently override common sense.  We hire people we like. We limit the scope of the search because we have found what looks like a good candidate rather than search for the best candidate.  Settling for the good hire is counter to best practices.  In the case above in hiring the Controller, the CEO was clearly out of her comfort zone.  The whole three year fiasco (remember, it took a year to hire him and two more years of being unhappy with him) could have been avoided or at least minimized by following some simple rules, detailed below.  In the Controller situation, the problem could have been minimized had she sought help from others with more experience and comfort in hiring for the position. 

    Entrepreneurs can often be their own worst enemies.  I frequently conduct SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) analyses with company management teams.  It is not unusual to see the CEO listed as a major Strength and as a major Weakness of the  firm.  The CFO example happens all too frequently when the CEO is also the major shareholder and believes he doesn't have to answer to anyone. 

    The Quality position problems noted above are probably exceptions to the norm, but these stories are real. 

    The happy ending of the Operations Manager story is heartwarming but also disturbing.  The owner had to wander in his personal desert for a decade before he sought the help that made the company experience real progress.


    l. Effective hiring is a process, not an event. 

    2.You must define your company's Core Values before you begin any significant hiring effort.  This will shape and guide assessment of candidates for "fit" with your firm.

    3. Once you have defined the Core Values, any position you need to fill must have a definite job/position description against which you can measure candidates' talents and capabilities.

    4. If you do your homework properly, you will screen first on the resume, next on validation of the claims on the resume, and then by an appropriate background check.  While we all know that people are unlikely to list references who will say bad things about them, there's a lot to be gained in seeking out contacts who know the candidate.

    5. Candidates who pass the resume and background checks get moved into the interview stage.   A future blog in this series will examine some of the more egregious errors people make in interviewing, but for now, focus the interview on lots of listening, structuring the interview so that what the candidate "Can Do, Will Do, and has the Capacity to Do" can come through.  There's a lot to be said for having more than one interviewer in the room with the candidate. 

    6. Hire people provisionally with specific, measurable goals to be accomplished by specified dates clearly enumerated and documented. And, review progress towards those goals.  Keep score.

    7. Even with all of those guidelines, you are still going to make hiring mistakes.  Everybody makes hiring mistakes.  The key is to admit the mistake sooner rather than later.  Don't "put up" with someone who clearly isn't working out just because you are afraid you won't do better next time.  

    8. Hire Slowly, Fire Quickly. 

    These are the kinds of issues we routinely discuss and dialog about in the COSE Strategic Planning Course.  If you would like to learn more about the course, consider attending one of our information sessions (the next one is August 16, 2016) and/or look int the material about the course in this same website.

    Jeffrey C. Susbauer, Ph.D. is Associate Professor Emeritus at the Monte Ahuja College of Business, Cleveland State University where he has taught strategic management and entrepreneurship courses since 1970. A long-time consultant to scores of businesses, a member of the boards of advisors to over 60 companies, he co-founded and serves as the principal instructor for the COSE Strategic Planning/CEO Development Course for the past 36 years. The course is concerned with providing entrepreneurs with education to guide their vision, strategic thinking and execution in their businesses.

    Learn more about the Strategic Planning/CEO Development course or contact Jeff via email

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  • Next up: Why You Should Hire High School Interns
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  • Why You Should Hire High School Interns

    Why should you as an employer consider welcoming high school students as interns in your company? As part of the 2018 Cleveland Internship Summit, representatives from local companies, schools and youth-workforce intermediary organizations served as panelists to discuss their experiences with high school internship programs and share advice on the process.

    Participants in the 2018 Cleveland Internship Summit panel, Why Employers Should Consider High School Students for Their Internship Programs, included moderator Joe Spiccia, superintendent of Wickliffe City School District; Craig Dorn, senior vice president at Youth Opportunities Unlimited; Zerrine Bailey, emerging talent network leader at JumpStart; Karyn McAdams, human resource team leader at Parker Hannifin; and Marzell Brown, talent management lead at Rockwell Automation. The focus of the discussion was intended to help the audience understand the elements that make a high school internship experience successful for all parties involved.

    Why a high school internship program could benefit your company

    While some companies might not even realize it’s possible to hire teens as interns, others might be hesitant to do so due to some common misconceptions related to these types of programs, including that high school students are too young, they aren’t ready for this type of experience, they aren’t capable of the work involved or that they don’t have enough to contribute to the internship experience.                

    The panelists identified several reasons why those thoughts on hiring younger interns are not accurate, including the following benefits that they bring to an organization:

    Benefit No. 1: Valuable work. Students at this age are learning things at an earlier and faster rate than many adults. They have a keen interest in and experience with different areas of technology, and can pick up new things quickly.

    Benefit No. 2: New ways of thinking. Having input from varying ages and levels of experience can help improve the energy in your company and add to the diversity of thought and actions your company takes. These younger workers can help improve your brand awareness and appeal to a younger audience.

    Benefit No. 3: Management opportunities. Having high school interns on staff can be a great experience for your college interns. It can give them the opportunity to take on a management and mentorship role when it comes to working with the younger students.

    Benefit No. 4: Workforce development. Your high school intern could very well become a part-time employee while they work their way through a local college program, and then potentially become a future full-time employee with solid work experience.

    Benefit No. 5: Community partnerships. When you begin an internship program for high school students within your company, you have the potential to create long-term sustainable partnerships with valuable organizations and schools within your community.

    How to go about creating a high school internship program

    As companies begin to consider creating a high school internship program, it’s helpful to understand how schools are preparing their students for internships. Many schools offer opportunities to focus on specific industries such as culinary arts, healthcare and more so that students can acquire hands-on skills they will need in the real world. Schools are also bringing in companies to do things like mock interviews, resume writing and job shadowing. These partnerships can be invaluable for, not only the students, but also for the schools and the companies themselves.

    The panelists offered some thoughts on how employers might onboard or supervise high school interns differently than college interns and regular staff members, including:

    • Holding orientation in a more relaxed setting that appeals to and better engages younger workers;
    • conducting separate trainings for each high school intern to establish a connection and ensure they have a thorough understanding of expectations and have their specific questions answered;
    • realizing that, for paperwork purposes, younger students may not have a photo ID, a driver’s license, and other things that are more commonly expected from older hires;
    • understanding that transportation can be a challenge and helping ease this issue by providing bus passes, allowing remote working opportunities or creating ride share options;
    • connecting the interns with specific employees who are excited about working with high school students and who are not biased against their younger age;
    • helping interns build their “soft skills,” such as the importance of being on time, how to communicate in a professional setting, how to take constructive criticism, how to dress, and other things that usually come with experience;
    • ensuring you have clearly defined projects for the interns to work on and clearly identified timeframes in which they will conduct their work; and
    • checking in with your high school interns one-on-one on a regular basis, and providing “light-weight” performance reviews periodically so that they have an understanding of that part of the job process, as well as regular feedback on their performance.

    All panelists advised working with a third-party intermediary group, such as Youth Opportunities Unlimited. Using a broker can help your company go through the process of creating a program and filling your intern staffing needs, as well as assisting you in overcoming any potential challenges that might exist when hiring interns from this particular age group. For a deeper dive into how to create and manage your company's internship program, check out the Greater Cleveland Partnership's Internship Central page.

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