2017-09-01 / Spotlight News

Program sheds light on millennials at work

By Dayna Harpster

Mary LaRocque 
Contributed Mary LaRocque Contributed “Young people today.” Mary LaRocque has heard all the unflattering ways their elders sometimes describe them. It’s enough to think they’re all lazy, impatient, entitled jobhoppers.

But hold on, she’d say. Millennials, roughly defined as people born between 1980 and 1996, are simply different from other generations. They’ve been shaped by different societal forces.

The lens through which people – and in particular, employers – are observing them and making decisions about their work habits may need adjustment.

This is the topic of a workshop LaRocque gave Aug. 22 and will give again on Sept. 27 at Florida Gulf Coast University. The basis for “How to Attract and Keep Millennials in Today’s Work Environment,” a program of FGCU’s Office of Continuing Education, is a 10-year study of millennials by the Gallup organization.

LaRocque is founder and owner of Level Up Mentoring and a Gallup certified coach, with access to all of the data from the Gallup study.

While understanding the motivations of this group may simply baffle parents and grandparents, it’s a serious problem plaguing the workforce today. Millennials make up about 38 percent of the workforce and they’re not staying in jobs for long periods of time as previous generations may have.

“Gallup estimates the turnover rate is costing the American economy 30.5 billion dollars a year,” LaRocque said. “It’s having a huge impact on employers and the overall economy. So employers are scratching their heads about what to do.”

She also gives advice to hiring and recruiting professionals about how to attract this group, including how best to communicate through their websites and other social media outlets. And once managers have attracted millennials, LaRocque explains how to keep them.

“Gallup has a one-word answer for this,” LaRocque said. “Engagement.”

The top three things millennials look for in an employer are opportunities to learn and grow; a boss who is a mentor not a manager; and opportunities for advancement.

“So if you are an employer looking to attract and retain millennials, look first at what it is you have to offer in the above three areas and then honestly evaluate what you need to do to make those changes inside your culture,” LaRocque said.

“So many employers think ping pong tables and comfy chairs will solve the problem. But that’s not what millennials are looking for. They want to make a difference. To have purpose,” she said. “Some of the recommendations are surprisingly simple; others require investment from the top down.”

It may surprise audiences to find out according to the Gallup study, millennials rate higher than previous generations on empathy as well as adaptability.

To deal with them, “there has to be a cultural shift,” LaRocque said. “The old employment practices really don’t work. … (Millennials) don’t want to be told what to do and then once a year get a review and told what they’ve done wrong. They want more frequent interactions, to know why they’re being asked to do something. They want to know that what they’re doing has purpose.

“This is a huge problem that we need to start getting our arms around. The idea that you can sit back and wait for them to grow up is not the answer. They are grown up and this is what they look like,” she said.

LaRocque, the parent of two millennials, spent 20 years in the high-tech field with Apple computer. She has run a small business for real estate investing and now owns a consulting company for women entering a new phase in life, whether returning to the workforce after raising children or looking to switch careers or direction.

How to Attract and Keep Millennials in Today’s Work Environment

Presented by Mary LaRocque for FGCU’s Office of Continuing Education, will be held Sept. 27 from 8 to 10:30 a.m. in the Cohen Center at the university. The cost is $100. For registration information, call (239) 425-3270 or email continuinged@fgcu.edu.

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