Moving Millennials

Myths and misinformation about Millennials abound, with negative stereotypes often clouding perceptions of this growing segment of the workforce.

Moving Millennials
Mark E Johnson speaks to Weichert Workforce Mobility's Katherine Bouchard and Jennifer Connell about how this key demographic is affecting mobility in Canada, dispelling some myths along the way."Millennials are a hot topic at conferences these days," says Jennifer Connell, North America practice leader for Weichert Workforce Mobility. She and Katherine Bouchard, a workforce mobility counsellor, between them have 24 years' experience with Weichert. "There are a lot of myths behind Millennials. You hear these really negative stereotypes – they don't want to work hard, they have short attention spans, they'll switch jobs, they expect constant rewards in order to be engaged."What we're finding, on the contrary, is they're more career-driven than previous generations. They're just being highly selective when it comes to employment. They've learned from previous generations in that they want to be fully engaged, they're looking for more than just a pay cheque, and they're looking to consider several offers carefully before taking the right one."Most importantly, they're very nimble. Unfortunately, what we see in our profession is that, when a relocation or assignment doesn't go correctly, the employer doesn't necessarily know it isn't going well until the employee decides to walk."One growing strategy for incorporating Millennials into the workforce is the internship. "We've found from our surveys that one of the top reasons companies are using internships is to grow their own pool of talent," says Jennifer Connell. "One of the things we've found is that internships aren't only a way for companies to try employees, they're also a way for employees – particularly Millennials – to try the company for size."Technology is the most obvious sector for generating movement among Millennials, but the consumer and product industry is also seeing growth in activity at the moment, as is manufacturing."Any sector that has a requirement for a high-level skillset early in the career," Jennifer Connell says, mentioning agriculture and engineering as fields that often compete hard for Millennial talent.Putting down roots
While it's tempting to think of Millennials as recent graduates, at the other end of the spectrum are people in their mid-30s who have a family, or are starting to think about having one."That's where it's going to be interesting, I think, over the next five to ten years – to see how this demographic morphs and evolves into the place that is currently held by Gen Xers," says Jennifer Connell."Millennials have a reputation as being very mobile because they haven't planted roots yet. I think the older part of that demographic is looking to plant roots. These folks have the same dreams and ambitions that previous folks had. They want to own their own home, they want to start a family. They are just tending to do it later."A rotational programme, Katherine Bouchard says, can serve as an opportunity for the transferee to decide whether they'd like to stay in a location or move on to the next assignment. "Now they have more options as to where they can plant their roots.""They don't have to make decisions right away. They're really more concerned about that work-life balance," Jennifer Connell adds. "The typical Millennial profile is having Baby Boomer parents, and those are the people who worked endless hours and never really achieved a work-life balance. So Millennials are really determined to have that work-life balance their parents didn't have." A manifestation of this in relocation policy is managers providing a more robust set of destination services than has traditionally been the case."One thing we're seeing a lot of companies doing to help their employees," Jennifer Bouchard says, "is having the right technology in place, because Millennials are very resourceful, and they will often do their own research before they're even authorised for a move."Beyond that, however, firms are taking the initiative. "Companies are taking that profile of being nimble and curious, and using it to their own advantage. For example, say they have a candidate who is looking for an adventure or a new place, or raises their hand and asks whether there might be an opportunity for them to work in the Toronto office."In the past, the answer would have been 'no'. Now, we see companies say, 'This is someone with a strong set of skills, and we'd like to keep them for the long term.Let's provide them with an opportunity and satisfy that need to travel that they have'.


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