Why is Understanding Millennials Important to Succession Planning?

For the first time in history, four different generations are together in the workplace. Currently, Baby Boomers account for 48 percent of the workforce, Generation Xers 16 percent, and Millennials 36 percent. However, in just five years, these numbers will change dramatically. Thousands of Baby Boomers will retire, reducing their workforce presence to 23.8 percent, Generation X will remain the same at 16 percent, but, by 2020, the number of Millennials in the workforce will grow drastically.

Older generations may be looking for the magical millennial-decoder button so they may successfully manage or mold these young workers. Many of us buy into stereotypes that research has refuted, such as Millennials do not want to work and are lazy, unable to concentrate or problem-solve.

The need to understand each other to communicate effectively goes far beyond wanting to get along and play nice. Understanding succeeding generations is critical to the life of the organization.

Recent research shows Millennials can be described as hopeful, optimistic, civic-minded, determined, tenacious, respectful, inclusive, achievement-focused, and collaborative. They are looking to the older generations for mentoring and guidance. Millennials may go about things differently, but they are very much in search of direction and supportive leadership. They are also in search of an environment where they can co-create and be a part of something meaningful.

It has been suggested that bringing on younger workers sooner rather than later while providing them strong mentorship and training is advantageous both from cost-savings and workforce development perspectives. Attracting Millennials will require appealing to their values  mentioned above.