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Navigating the millennial maze

It’s an exciting time of year for college graduates as they prepare to start their professional careers. And it’s an exciting time for employers looking for young talent.

Increasingly, it seems businesses are turning to post-graduation internships to fill slots left vacant by retiring Baby Boomers. And, of course, summer is prime internship time for current college students.

And just in time, The Muse has released an e-book on millennials to help employers navigate the millennial maze.

First, according to a global 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, the most important factor to millennials when choosing an employer is work-life balance. This generation is passionate about engaging in causes and doing things that make them happy. In fact, on average, 44 percent turn down a job offer because of an organization’s values.

Perhaps not surprising, professional development training programs ranked last on the list, with only 8.3 percent.

Also according to the survey, by 2020, two of every three respondents hope to have moved on in their jobs, while only 16 percent see themselves with their current employers. A whopping 63 percent of millennials don’t feel their leadership skills are being developed.

But good news: Mentorship may fix that.

For example, The Muse references GE’s investment in employee development - $1 billion each year. There, every employee can have access to a personalized curriculum developed to their strengths to help foster leadership. And its Leader in Residence Program pairs top executives with other staff for a week of teaching, coaching and mentoring.

Full disclosure: Most organizations don’t have the resources to create a program like GE. But no matter how small a budget, companies and organizations can develop an effective mentorship program.

“Millennials’ passion for growth can get misinterpreted as entitlement,” the e-book says. “But, when given opportunities for professional development, millennials will stick around to evolve their careers with a company. It’s not just a paycheck or a stepping-stone to the next big thing. From startups to Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits to Capitol Hill, marketing the growth opportunities within your company can help get the right candidates on board and help them envision their trajectory.”

The Muse says leaders should talk meaningfully about training programs and be transparent about how advancement works in an organization.

According to the e-book, it’s also important to engage millennials in their skillsets. Most are digital natives, and could offer opportunities that help an organization grow. The key is trust.

Understanding the importance of education, many employers offer their millennial staff non-traditional compensation, such as tuition reimbursement. Once educated, millennials may very well apply their skills to your organization, which is a safe return on an employer’s invesetment.

Part of mentoring is tracking employee growth. The Muse offers some tips to foster it:

  • Take a pulse of new employees to understand what growth means for them, individually. Find out what skills they want to develop or the types of projects and roles they want to take on.
  • Be specific about the responsibilities and steps necessary to achieve short-term and long-term goals.
  • Follow up in regular meetings (once a month, or every quarter). This helps managers and team members stay focused on the plan and document tangible signs of growth.
  • Encourage them to strengthen their skill sets outside of the job through classes, conferences, workshops and books.
  • As a stepping stone in between promotions and formal title changes, find other ways to make it visible that an employee has gained new responsibilities, like making them a “team lead” or project manager.
  • Create an internal job board to give employees a sneak peek at what is opening up and have the chance to be considered before it goes public.

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