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Millennials Reshaping the Workplace

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As an alumna of The Ohio State University and an individual involved in the surrounding community, I was recently invited to a dinner hosted by the university's Institute for Civic Engagement to speak with incoming freshman about their hopes, dreams, and goals related to college, work, volunteerism, and life. After some introductory conversation, I asked the group at my table if finding a job after graduation was an important factor in selecting a major. While they had all chosen different areas of study--engineering, dentistry, finance, hospitality management, neuroscience, and more--I was surprised to hear every student say, "Yes."

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Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net user David Castillo Dominici.

Our discussion then moved to what each student was looking for in an employer. Interestingly, while none of them had a specific organization in mind, they all expressed a strong desire to be engaged in their future jobs.

"I want a job where I believe in what I do and I take pride in the organization I work for."
"I really want to make a difference in the world but I want to make good money too."
"I want a job where I can be successful and grow."
"I want a job where I can be creative."
"I'm willing to work long days or weekends, but I just want to know that someone appreciates that."

I just smiled, and our conversation moved on to a variety of other topics. But, their comments about being engaged, taking pride in their work, and making a difference in their future careers stuck with me afterwards.

Not long ago, I read findings from a survey conducted by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) in 2011 of nearly 4,400 university graduates, or "millennials," from 75 countries. The PwC website includes a page Millennials at work: Reshaping the workplace in which users can filter the data by country, industry, and gender across five data "stories:" individual compromise, factors that make an organization attractive, importance of shared values, advancement opportunities, and work schedule. After examining data from millennials in the United States, here are a few key takeaways:

• Almost 70 percent of respondents noted that they seek a job where an employer's values reflect their own values.
• 57 percent of millennials in the U.S. said that "competitive wages and other financial incentives" make an organization an attractive employer.
• 52 percent of survey respondents indicated that "opportunities for career progression" make an organization an attractive employer.

PwC also offers action steps employers can take to better understand and manage millennials. I would recommend that leaders (of any age) in all organizations, including K-12 Talent Managers, check out this important information. We all need to have the skills to work with, manage, lead, reward, engage, and retain the future of our workforce.

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