Do Millenials Really Have a Bad Attitude?

Management Attitudes and Generation Y (Millennials)

Of all the generations that complain to me about Millennials, it is the Boomers who seem to have the most difficulty.  They can’t seem to understand why this generation approaches work so differently (and if the Boomers were truthful they’d say “wrongly”).  Boomer managers focus so much of their attention on changing the Millennials on their team that they become extremely frustrated and often drive the person away.  This is costly and unnecessary.  Millennials are going to arrive at your company with very different attitudes about work; regardless of whether you think these attitudes are right or wrong.  Perhaps what should be more frustrating to Boomers is the fact that they created this attitude in the Millennials!

The Millennial generation, the children of the Boomers, saw their parents move from job to job during most of their working years.  What the Millennials learned, much faster than their parents, is that you will not be rewarded for loyalty to a company.  Even Boomers who worked for companies for decades found themselves laid off or their jobs eliminated.    This often created hardship, anxiety, and financial pain for their families.  Millennials lived through this and saw the effect on their parents.  Is it any wonder that they think about work  very differently than Boomers?

This experience has not only influenced the Millennial’s loyalty factor, it has shaped their entire way they view a “career”.  They fully expect to spend their working years as more “free agent” than “company man (or woman)”.  As soon as they perceive their employer has run out of opportunities, they will begin looking elsewhere.  Boomer managers should focus more on engaging and creating opportunities that appeal to this generation than trying to change them.  You can’t change them, they won’t respond to it, and you really have no one else to hire.  If you want to end your management frustration with this generation, you’ll have to first change your attitude about them.

Retention Starts with Selection

Our firm is often called in when there is a hiring or turnover crisis.  Key positions in the company are going unfilled.  The domino impact of unfilled, key positions leads to lower productivity and to higher cost.  As productivity drops and costs start to increase, managers become more desperate to find a solution.  Unfortunately this desperation leads to making hasty and uninformed hiring decisions.  They will settle for “good enough” instead of the best.  This, then, starts the cycle all over again.  Poor hiring decisions lead to employee dissatisfaction.  This results in another vacancy in the job and on and on.

Too many employers look to recruiting as the sole response to retention.  “If only we could recruit better people then we wouldn’t have this turnover” or so the logic suggests.  I say – WRONG!  The solution is not always better recruiting, the solution is better selecting.  Only after you have a solid process to select the best will you then begin to address your retention problem.

Here’s an example.  I met with the senior executive at a medium size hospital system.  The executive easily recognized a retention problem, citing more than a 50% annual turnover in their hospitals C-level ranks.  A quick calculation found that this was likely costing the hospital system approximately $8 million annually in both hard and soft costs.  They were already throwing twelve separate recruiting firms at the problem, finding more people was not solving the problem.  Their recruiting contracts are such that they actually discourage firms from referring the best candidates.  Still they were able to attract some “good enough” people.   The retention problem could have been reduced somewhat  IF the company knew how to assess the candidates.  Although their recruiting strategy could use some work, the more immediate issue was in how they selected people to fill the ever-rotating positions.

Their selection process went something like this: After receiving a resume of a presumed “fit”, a quick telephone screen was conducted by member of the senior management team.  If the candidate sounded good, they were flown to company headquarters and met several other members of the senior executive team.  Afterwards the candidate returned home.  The top executive then asked those who met with the candidate what they thought.  As long as these five minute conversations were generally positive the company made a decision to hire the person!  Given the total costs involved, the impact of this decision was probably $400,000.

Each person who met the candidate had their own set of pet questions to ask.  Interviewers had likely first viewed the resume only a few minutes before the meeting.  Feedback from these interviews was anecdotal at best.  Does this sound familiar?  I’ll bet there was more consideration given to choosing a paper supplier than in hiring a new hospital CEO.

Structured selection does not have to be an onerous, over-engineered process.  What it does need to be is a consistent process, benchmarked against a standard set of criteria, and strictly followed by all involved.  The selection process must include, at a minimum, the following three elements — Objective Assessment, Credential Validation, and Cultural Consideration.
The Objective Assessment should be first benchmarked before any interviewing starts.  Only against an established benchmark does any objectivity enter the process. Either there is an objective fit or there isn’t.  Behavioral interviewing and assessment testing are tremendously powerful tools to create an Objective Assessment.

Credential Validation proves the resume and checks for candidate integrity.  This involves standardized reference checking, background screens, and other forms of validation.

Finally, Cultural Consideration allows the interview team to assess whether the person will blend into the organization.  Remember, you never want to blur someone onto the team.  They must understand the culture of the team and the company and it must be one that allows them to thrive.

Don’t throw resumes at your retention problems.  It is important to have a solid recruiting strategy, but that is not the only way to attack chronic turnover.  It is equally important to have a selection process that identifies the right person who is best for the job.  This will eliminate hiring desperation and introduce objectivity into the process.  If properly structured and implemented a selection strategy means fewer positions will need to be filled.  Begin to examine your selection process.  Is it objective?  Is it structured?  Does everyone on the interview team use the same methods?  Is your assessments bench-marked against a standard? If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these questions then you’ve got some work to do.

Richard Yadon, CPC, CERS, is the President and CEO of Health Career Professionals, LLC, a health care executive search, selection, and retention firm. To implement any of these strategies, please contact Richard at 866.371.0687 x.110.