The Repositioning of Millennials in The Workforce
The sign industry workforce is rapidly shifting as the next generation filters in with modern thought leaders and industry experts. Millennials currently make up 25 percent of the U.S. population and will comprise more than 40% of the workforce by 2020. With those numbers in mind, manufacturing employers will find it helpful to understand what keeps them engaged at work. As a millennial employer in the sign industry who has hired a predominantly millennial team, I have some valuable insights to share.
The way to generate optimal results from the millennial generation is by making use of one simple technique - appealing to their values. McKinsey researchers reported that young employees will be an integral part of the solution to corporate stagnation, due in part to their tendencies for empathy and prioritizing their values at work. Appealing to the values of a millennial, as opposed to using persuasive or influential tactics, will show potential young employees why they want to work in our industry.
Here are a few of the values most commonly attributed to millennials, and how appealing to those values can bring strength to any sign-making organization.
Experiences and education
Millennials are more inclined to seek out meaningful experiences, rather than pursuing material or monetary rewards. In order to inspire millennials to change and grow in long-term employee roles, we in the sign industry have to offer more than a gold watch and an annual bonus.
One way to appeal to working millennials’ experience-based values is the exposure to senior executives. Allowing those early in their career to benefit from the knowledge and expertise of higher ups shows that a company values their role within the organization. Organizations should also invite millennial employees to participate in industry expos in order for them to stay current with signage trends and information. Implementing a mentoring relationship between managers, executives, and the younger crowd will establish a sense of trust, allowing millennials to educate themselves, and grow their skillsets and talents.
Millennials value being part of a bigger picture. They want their talents to make a difference in the workplace. Sharing employee bios and stories, and initiating friendly intra-office competitions are ways to foster a sense of community in the workplace.
Companies should consider implementing a strategy for job shadowing or cross training in order to allow millennials to experience a day in the life of their fellow colleagues, learn the complexities of each other’s roles, and see how they contribute to the bigger picture. Much like how Sign Manufacturing Day offers industry hopefuls the chance to observe how signs are produced, facilitating the same firsthand opportunities for your millennial employees will improve their understanding of the sign manufacturing field and allow them to build relationships with colleagues.
In a time when technology connects any one person to another from across the globe, it’s no wonder that technological connectivity and information are valued by millennials. With the cultural shift towards constant connectivity, millennials give a different perspective on the use of data and technology for company expansion.
Allowing younger employees to express their ideas and collaborate with supervisors most effectively uses their technological dexterity and gives companies an advantage. Millennials can be particularly savvy when it comes to increasing a company’s digital footprint in an authentic way. This skill enhances marketing initiatives by building a great online reputation and developing customers’ trust. Fostering a positive, collaborative environment around technology will ensure that your younger employees feel a sense of contribution as we move forward into the tech-focused future.
Job autonomy and flexibility
Companies in the sign industry should empower millennial employees to do their best work. Since millennials are the generation with the highest number of advanced degrees, they need to feel a sense of ownership and autonomy in their roles. This generation has also seen a great number of entrepreneurs reach the pinnacle of success before the age of 30. It’s only natural to desire independence and advancement. Autonomy in the workplace has been shown to increase employee engagement and facilitate greater employee accountability in order to allow employees to feel happier with a greater sense of value.
Millennials are the future! They are ready, willing, and able to contribute their talents to a company in which they can succeed. Our industry should take the reins and empower millennial employees to share their ideas and collaborate efforts to benefit everyone’s future. Ensuring tomorrow’s makers feel confident and supported will prove vital to building and developing successful business.
A.J. Titus is President of Signarama, a member of United Franchise Group (UFG), comprised of nine brands and 1,600 franchise owners in 80 countries. He sits on multiple boards, including the Rinker School of Business and the Titus Center for Franchising. He was also recognized in South Florida Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” in 2018.