The man employed as Stanley Electric’s recruiter had to delete his cell phone number from his email signature. He was getting calls and text messages from younger job applicants at 10 p.m.
It’s an issue many recruiters had not experienced in the past, but as more Millennials are entering the workforce, it’s a lesson some have learned of the younger generation.
“Their business etiquette lacks,” said Jim Christel, a technical recruiter at the company’s London location, which employs 1,700 people. “They want answers when they are available.”
About 20 business leaders gathered at the Madison County Chamber of Commerce on Monday to discuss how the workforce has changed as members of the generation have been employed.
Millennials, defined as those born between 1980 and 1994, will make up 75 percent of the working population by 2030. Currently, one of three working adults is a Millennial. There are currently 53 million Millennials who are a part of the workforce.
The generation has been labeled as lazy, entitled job-hoppers who are unapologetically late to work and require instant gratification. Workers are also stereotyped as masters at digital communication who value social media and would rather work for purpose, not paychecks.
Based on a multigenerational study of 1,784 employees from companies across 12 countries and six industries, it found that about the same percentage of Millennials (25 percent) want to make a positive impact on their organization as Gen Xers (21 percent) and Baby Boomers (23 percent).
Christel, a Millennial himself, and self-described non-Millennial Monica Watkins, human resources manager for Ace Hardware at its West Jefferson location, spoke about the challenges and benefits of employing the generation.
Ace Hardware employs about 140 people. About 40 percent of the workforce is a Millennial.
Watkins — who said she has even received a Facebook message from an applicant — said her company has had to change its thought process on hiring. The company uses social media to advertise positions and has sped up the hiring process to keep up with Millennials’ faster-paced lifestyle. A good applicant may be offered a job before they leave the building for a first interview.
“We’ve had to streamline the process,” she said. “If it’s a good candidate, we will lose them quickly.”
The Millennial candidate also comes to the interview with many questions, Watkins said. She noted the generation is the most informed. Candidates use the internet to thoroughly research the company and industry-appropriate pay scale ahead of the interview.
“Sometimes I feel like we’re being interviewed as much as they’re being interviewed,” she said.
Christel agreed. It shifts the balance from the employer to the job-seeker, he said.
“They know what they’re worth,” he added.
Chamber member Beverly Richards, of LDR Interactive Web Design, said she has had bad experiences with hiring Millennials.
“It goes against everything I’ve done in the past,” she said, speaking of the hiring process. “I’m looking for someone with experience who will stay for awhile.”
“Good luck!” chimed in another person in attendance.
Companies have had to adjust their policies to adapt to the Millennial perspective. When Ace Hardware opened its West Jefferson distribution center in 2014, a strict attendance policy was enforced. One minute late? Inexcusable.
But it was inflating their turnover numbers. Now, that policy has been relaxed.
“We’ve learned that they may be out in the parking lot sending that last text,” she said, noting that it’s still not excusable to be a few minutes late every day.
Liz Lynch, a Millennial working as a development coordinator for Madison Health, rejected the notion that all young workers can’t be on time. Individuals must be taught how to properly communicate and manage time, she said.
“It’s a learned behavior,” she added.
Christel said Stanley had made more HR information available online, allowing the employee to monitor their own occurrences, vacation time and benefits information. Face-to-face counseling is still available and used, he noted.
Watkins said engagement is key. She keeps a jar of suckers on her desk to facilitate personal interactions since the days of handing an employee a paycheck along with a smile and a “thank you” are gone.
Ace Hardware also offers many fun perks to keep employees engaged. Last month, for example, the company hosted “Hot Dog Thursday” each week.
“You have to know what makes each employee tick,” she said. “It’s different for each person.”
Andrea Chaffin can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619 or via Twitter @AndeeWrites.