Onboarding for Millennials

Onboarding for Millennials

On · board ·ing

/ än’ bôrdiNG /

noun

The action or process of integrating a new employee into an organization.

Okay. Now that we’ve defined it, let’s talk about onboarding specifically for millennials. I can hear you already, “do I really need to do that??” The answer is yes.

Millennials are generally defined as people born between 1980 and 1996. Right now, millennials make up 38% of our workforce and by the year 2025, they will comprise a whopping 75%!

Millennials think and act differently than their predecessors (i.e. people from the Baby Boomer and Gen X populations). Millennials are not risk-adverse. If they feel on the first day that this job is not the right fit, guess what they’ll do?

Picture this: you welcome your new millennial employee to the firm, lead him or her to the conference room, give them a nice big fat binder with lots of forms and information, darken the lights and start what will be a series of long, boring PowerPoint presentations about your mission and goals, your history, your processes, etc. After eight hours of this, what do you think the typical millennial will do?

They will be texting their previous firm to see if they can get their old job back. Or they’ll be texting their number two choice of job offers they had. They will definitely be texting their best friend to complain about the “lame” first day on the new job.

So we need to plan differently. It’s costly and time-consuming to hire people. All it takes it a little more planning to make your new millennial hire start and stay with your company for as long as possible.

Millennials grew up online, so make as many required forms and applications as you can electronic and available on your website. Give them as much information as you can electronically ahead of time and let them know when you need it back.

Plan ahead so they have the equipment they need, set-up as they need it, on the first day. As an employer, you can even contact new hires ahead and time and ask them their preferences. Nothing says, “Gee, we forgot you were starting today” better than not being prepared. Millennials will not appreciate that, but they will love it if you realize the importance of their work equipment and make an effort to personalize it especially for them.

Millennials love communication and social interaction. They grew up online, likely had a cell phone and computer at a young age, and are accustomed to communicating frequently. They will appreciate that same kind of social interaction with their new co-workers and managers.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, this same love of constant communication, even if electronic, means they love to live and work as part of a team.

Introduce them to their team on the first day. Have a same-generation co-worker who has been there a couple of years serve as work buddy. Show them around, let them know where the best lunch places are, help them navigate corporate politics, and what, exactly, is the dress code on Fridays?

Assign a mentor to help guide your new millennial. Millennials generally don’t have the mistrust baby boomers had of the older generation. They are very open to working with an experienced person who can really help with training, show them the ropes, answer questions, provide insight. Pick a mentor who is good working with less-experienced workers who might be new to any kind of corporate environment. A mentor should be there to encourage your new employee; he or she should give them lots of feedback and positive reinforcement.

Along with the love and need for constant communication is the love and need for ongoing feedback. Let them know how feedback is given formally and informally in your company. And, how do they give feedback? They are accustomed to giving it and will appreciate knowing the process. They probably won’t enjoy any direct, harsh criticism (who does?), but will respond to frequent feedback on what they’re doing right and how they can improve.

Be clear about your expectations and goals — again, lots of communication! Also be clear about future opportunities. What are the possibilities? What training will you offer? What advancement opportunities are there for them? They will want to know there are places for them to grow and advance within your company. If you don’t provide this, remember they’re not risk-adverse. They’ll look elsewhere for what they don’t find with you.

If you recognize and act-on these differences and approach your millennials appropriately, they will be appreciative and respond in-kind. Our careers are very important to all of us; it helps when we know that it’s important to our employers as well.