The workforce is changing. Generation Z is making its way into the workspace and baby boomers are quickly becoming a minority. Millennials are revolutionizing the workforce with high expectations and a sense of urgency.
Young professionals in today’s economy are constantly seeking ways to advance their careers—and they want to do it fast. Gone is the generation of patience and waiting for your ticket to be called. In its place is a generation of folks who grew up with computers and cellphones delivering any piece of information they want to know in just seconds.
“Young professionals are so adept at technology, and they’re used to the immediate gratification that technology today allows,” said Tammy Wilkes, vice president of human resources at Mirror Show Management.
Older generations, on the other hand, did not grow up with cellphones and computers, so they have had to put in extra effort to adjust to the latest and constantly evolving technology. But companies need employees to have the skills to use technology, and millennials are walking in to jobs nailing this skill set.
“Millennials are known for being disrupters,” said Lauren Dixon, CEO of Dixon Schwabl, “and we want disrupters, especially in our business. But they have to be respectful disrupters.”
Technical skills are not all that companies are looking for when hiring and promoting young professionals. Emailing and text messaging have seemed to replace face-to-face contact, but companies still value employees with strong verbal communication skills.
“We need to see a strong set of interpersonal skills; the soft skills that help us be successful in customer and client relationships and communicate with each other internally are very important to us,” said Britton Lui, vice president of people and development at Dixon Schwabl. “Being able to navigate through mobile devices and technology is certainly a key to being successful in the modern workplace, but also being able to put the phone down and have strong conversations with each other, with our leaders and with our clients is really key for us.”
Managers specifically value employees, young or seasoned, that demonstrate the company’s core values. Wilkes notes that when Mirror Show Management leaders promote young professionals it is because they display strong LMA (Leadership, Management and Accountability for self and others) and GWC (Gets it, Wants it and has the Capacity to do it).
At Paychex Inc., managers seeks young professionals who are proactive, have a sense of accountability and are goal oriented.
“We’re always looking to promote within our organization and help employees navigate their career path,” said Lori Weber, senior director of virtual sales at Paychex.
Young professionals today are hyper-focused on rapid career progression, and it is essential for employees and managers to be on the same page when it comes to an employee’s expected timeline for their career.
“We need to make sure our timelines are in sync,” Lui said. “We have to make sure the person is truly dedicated and demonstrates the core value system and understands the expectations before we put them on an upward mobility track.”
Weber adds that young professionals today always have their sights set on something else. They may be in an entry-level position, but they are prepared to do what is necessary to rise through the ranks as quickly as possible.
Wilkes advises young employees seeking advancement to focus on her or himself and avoid office gossip, and always make sure they have their coworkers’ backs.
“Sometimes people get too involved with what’s going on around them,” says Wilkes. “But at the same time, we value employees who are collaborative and have a team-based disposition.”
Dixon recommends demonstrating selflessness and humility if young professionals are looking to move up the ladder.
“Demonstrate leadership by calling out others and not taking credit for everything all the time,” she said. “What that says to all of us in management is, ‘Wow, this person really recognizes the value in collaboration in an organization and is so confident in themselves that they’re free to pass out compliments to others.’ That then motivates and excites the whole team they’re working with.”
Wilkes notes that young employees today desire more autonomy and flexibility in their jobs. They want the freedom to work in a coffee shop and not stay holed up in an office from 9 to 5. The line that separates work and home has grown blurrier with the ability to access projects on personal laptops and email notifications popping up on cellphones beyond work hours.
Older generations, however, did not experience this type of work culture when they were entering the workforce. With today’s technology there is pressure to always be connected and available.
“Today’s workforce is very different compared to 20 or 30 years ago,” Dixon said. “It’s not bad different, it’s really good because the younger folks are disrupters and we need disrupters; we can’t just do the same old same old. Those days are gone. We need millennials. And we as leaders need to manage them differently.”
Nsheldon@bridgetowermedia.com / (585) 363-7031