Countdown To 2020: Why You Need To Create A Millennial Action Plan
Remember Y2K? Leading up to the year 2000, companies, governments, and even families created action plans to address any challenges, such as power outages.
A very different kind of countdown is coming to the business world in 2020. That’s when the 80 million Millennials (ages 18-31) in the United States are projected to make up 50 percent of the workforce. This giant generation of “digital natives” has already impacted the way that we do business. Just imagine how different things could be once Millennials are 50 percent of your employees and customers.
This dramatic demographic shift will present amazing opportunities for companies that are ready. Now, five years before this historic shift, is great time for companies to create a 2020 Millennial Action Plan (MAP) – a five-year plan with strategies for each year to engage Millennials. Here are five strategies to consider in 2015 as part of your 2020 MAP:
Step one is hiring Millennials. And I suggest you look for Gen Y candidates with leadership experience in community organizations, school groups, or sports teams. The Hartford’s 2014 Millennial Leadership Survey found 83 percent of Millennials consider themselves to be a leader today and 73 percent aspire to be leaders in the next five years. The workplace is the No. 1 area where they want to lead, with most of their current leadership in their personal lives. Consider this personal leadership as a great training ground for professional leadership.
While they feel like leaders now, Millennials recognize that they need training and development to be effective leaders in the workplace. Millennials’ No. 1 request from companies is training and development, according to The Hartford’s Millennial Leadership Survey. Additionally they want a clear career path and coaching. Consider making 2015 the year that you refine your leadership succession plan and offer the training and development necessary to put the plan in action. If you can’t offer in-house training, provide Millennials with ideas (and ideally funding) for external training resources, such as online classes, local college courses, books and blogs.
Protect Your Leaders
Don’t forget to protect your employees and their leadership potential. Now that you’ve identified your leaders, be sure to offer income protection and communicate the value of this benefit. Help employees see that benefits, such as disability insurance, is a key component of their overall compensation. You’ll also protect your investment in these leaders. The Hartford’s research has shown that employees who have disability insurance return to work after an illness or injury faster than those who are unprotected. A faster recovery time for your leaders can help your company with its productivity and can help employees stay on track with their personal and professional goals.
A reverse mentoring program, in which new and experienced employees mentor one another, is another way that you can help your Gen Y employees become the next generation of leaders. Reverse mentoring allows a company to benefit from the expertise of each generation, such as knowledge transfer from long-time boomer employees and the tech skills of “digital native” Millennials. Reverse mentoring can also provide engagement and networking opportunities to those who may feel ignored, such as Gen X’ers who are stuck in the middle of two massively influential generations.
When asked about what an employer could offer to retain young employees, Millennials in The Hartford’s poll said flexible work schedule (58 percent); merit-based salary increase every six months (41 percent); and insurance benefits (38 percent). Don’t we all want those? You will most likely attract and retain employees from all generations if you strive to offer a good work-life balance, fair-market salaries, and benefits that help protect employees’ health and wealth.
The countdown to the Gen Y 2020 is coming. With planning, you can be ready for it – and even use it to your advantage and succeed in the workplace of the future.
About Lindsey Pollak
Lindsey Pollak is a Millennial workplace expert and spokesperson for The Hartford’s My Tomorrow Campaign, an educational initiative to help Millennials understand benefits. She is the author of the New York Times best-seller “Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders.” Pollak has more than a decade of experience advising both young professionals and organizations on the changing world of work. Pollak (@lindseypollak) appears on several “Best People to Follow on Twitter” lists. Her website is on Forbes’ “Top 100 Websites for Your Career.”
Lindsey will be a featured presenter at the upcoming Keenan Summit, March 24 and 25.