Talent Management And Succession Planning in the Age of Millennials


Although the definition varies, millennials (also known as Generation Y) are typically considered to be those people who reached legal age around the turn of the 21st century. Currently, millennials comprise approximately 33 percent of the global work force, and estimates from the BPW Foundation project that by 2025, that number will increase to 75 percent. In short, millennials are the future of your business, and they must be managed effectively — and included in your succession planning.

The Millennial Personal

No generalization is universally true for all members of a group, but several extensive studies have been conducted to identify commonalities and tendencies among millennials. 

·         Millennials are an entrepreneurial group, according to a survey conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Approximately 67 percent of the respondents reported having an interest in someday starting their own businesses.

·         Millennials are a well-educated group. A 2012 study by Pew Research revealed that approximately one-third of all people between the ages of 25 and 29 in the U.S. had earned at least a four-year degree. However, this education has come at a price; the average college debt was $25,000 at the time of graduation.

·         Millennials are social, with 75 percent reporting that have created one or more social media profiles.

·         Millennials are very comfortable with technology. As a group, they grew up with home computers, the Internet, cell phones and video games. They are willing to embrace cutting-edge technology, and they often uncomfortable with employers who ignore technological advances.

What Millennials want from Employers

Millennials who find traditional employment tend to be anything but traditional employees. Baby boomers often worked for only one or two employers during their entire careers, and they placed great emphasis on salary and job security. Millennials are far more unlikely to feel a great deal of loyalty to an employer. Surprisingly, although millennials consider their salaries to be important, financial rewards are not the most important factors they cite in defining job satisfaction.

·         Millennials want to feel that their employers are contributing to the greater good. They want to work for a company with a strong social conscience and excellent reputation.

·         Millennials value transparency. They expect employers to be honest with them in all areas, from the quality of their work to the company's long-term goals.

·         More than previous generations, millennials want their managers to be mentors. They want near-constant feedback, a sense that their contributions are appreciated, opportunities to develop their skills, the support of their bosses and formal, regular reviews.

·         A study released in 2014 by Bentley University reported that 77 percent of the millennials responding stated that flexible work hours boosted productivity for those in their age group, while an additional 39 percent felt that increased opportunities for working from remote locations would increase productivity.

·         More than 50 percent of the millennials in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce study stated that the company's benefits package was one of the most important factors they evaluated when considering an employer. However, millennials want to choose which benefits they receive, and if it is a choice between losing benefits and paying for them, they are willing to pay.

·         Approximately 75 percent of the millennials participating in the Chamber study stated that they want to have a good balance between their careers and their personal lives. In fact, such balance seems to be more of a demand than a wish.

Millennials and Succession Planning

Every organization must embrace succession planning to at least some degree. Historically, internal promotions have provided excellent continuity and minimized disruption. Although there are many different definitions of leadership, there is no universal consensus. Identifying employees of any generation who possess the potential to eventually fill critical positions can be a challenge, and the challenge can be magnified when evaluating millennials.

An employee's personality and innate traits are often immutable. Intelligence, integrity and determination are not traits that can be taught to adult employees. However, employers must consider all aspects of an employee when creating a succession plan.

Two things that are often considered important for leaders are flexibility and sociability. As a group, millennials tend to score well on these traits. They prefer the freedom to find creative solutions, rather than be locked into a rigid path. They also prefer to feel that they are integral members of a team, even if they lean toward working independently on specific tasks.

Millennials expect the respect and trust of others, and they are more than willing to give the same to co-workers, superiors and employees they supervise. They also tend to be more oriented toward fulfilling a purpose than following a rigid set of steps toward a specific goal. They therefore build relationships with those they supervise that enable others to exercise their creativity, and they are open to innovative ideas that are not their own.

Ultimately, however, the question is not whether you need to learn how to manage millennials or include them in your succession planning — you will have little choice, because within the next decade, three-fourths of your employees will likely belong to Generation Y. The sooner you learn to adapt to their unique needs, the better your chances will be of recruiting and retaining the best talent that the millennial generation has to offer.



The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

Add new comment

Please enter the text you see in the image below: