Get Millennials To Work for You

Part 1: Is your company appealing to young people?

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Part 1: Is your company appealing to young people?

 

It isn’t news to you by now. Processors—in fact manufacturers of all kinds—are having difficulty recruiting next-generation talent, the so-called Millennials. It’s an issue that’s been brewing for decades, but really started to percolate when industry started to emerge from the Great Recession of 2008-2010. Many had downsized in the face of horrid business conditions, and seasoned engineers and manufacturing personnel were let go left and right. Many left plastics processing for good. And when business started to recover, companies were left short-handed with no young talent in the pipeline.

 

Lots of people have all kinds of explanations for this:

 

  • “Young people don’t want to get their hands dirty and work in manufacturing.”

 

  • “They think manufacturing is boring. They don’t like to socialize, and their idea of networking is playing with their Smart Phone.”

 

  • “We’ve created an economic model that is supposed to reward the educated, but so many graduates today are faced with mounting debt and no job prospects as soon as they take off their cap and gown.”  

 

  • “This is what happens when trade schools close and when high schools drop shop class.”

 

I’m sure you have your own list. So with all this as a backdrop, I reached out to someone I thought could shed some light on the subject. Paul Sturgeon, pictured below, is the business manager at KLA Industries, a recruiting firm with offices in Cincinnati and Largo, Fla. that specializes in plastics. He shared some extremely useful information and ideas, which I’d like to pass on to you. In this blog, we’ll cover how to assess just how appealing your organization is to young people. Sturgeon calls this your “Millennial Score.”

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While no precise definition exists for this group, typically millennial refers to those currently in their upper 30s and younger. Says Sturgeon, “As a group they are looking for very different things than previous generations when considering who to work for, so before a company considers how to attract and land them, it needs to take an objective look at how attractive it is to that group. More so than any previous generation, Millennials want to work for a company they believe is making a difference in the world or at least in their communities.”

 

Sturgeon explains that “making a difference” can take many forms. He explains: “Think of TOMS Shoes, a company that sells shoes, but for every pair you purchase they donate a pair to a child in need. If you think plastics processors can’t do something like that, you’re wrong.” He continues, “Look at Lego. They have made a commitment to run off 100% renewable energy by 2020 and are consistently on the lists of most socially responsible companies.”

 

Does your company do anything that would appeal to Millennials? According to Sturgeon, it should. “Many studies have shown these things are critical in Millennials’ decision process when looking for job, and that they are far more likely to leave if they do not see their company as a good corporate citizen. That could be donating time to local charities, using recycled plastics, planting trees, or any number of other things. When companies ask me why they cannot seem to ‘find’ younger workers, I have to tell some of them, ‘We can find them; they just don’t want to work for your company.’”

 

What about money and benefits? Sturgeon replies, “Millennials tend to be a little less intrinsically motivated by money, but they also have tremendous student loan debt so they need a decent salary, and bonus potential is attractive. A few companies are starting to implement programs to pay a portion of an employee’s student loans provided they stay with the company longer-term. Non-immediate cash benefits like 401(k), traditional medical and dental, and life insurance aren’t too important. There is one big exception, and that is time off or the ability for a flexible schedule. Millennials really value a life/work balance.”

 

Read Part 2, where I share some of Sturgeon’s thoughts on how you can create a job opening advertisement that will appeal to Millennials.

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