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How to work with millennials

Bonnie Gardiner | March 27, 2015
Millennials – they're disobedient, they ask too many questions and I can't relate to them. Does this sound like you? If so, it's high time you made working with this fearless, tech-savvy age group a top priority, because if they're not working with you, they're with your competitors, and you're going to lose valuable competitive advantage.

"They have very little sense of loyalty that you would get in older generations," says Doughty. "You have to make it attractive for them to be here all the time because their network is so huge now that they can move in an instant if something comes along that is shinier."

Along with engagement strategies already discussed, ensuring that millennials are working on interesting projects and feeling like they're developing their skills will ensure greater interest in what the company has to offer. Further, providing career opportunities, and getting them involved in roadmap development will help millennials feel a sense of strategic engagement, says Doughty.

Despite your best efforts, however, the most that many CIOs could expect of millennials is around three years, according to Gray. But it doesn't mean all your effort hasn't paid off.

"What we're seeing more and more, particularly within IT, is young people come and do three years and have a great experience, and then leave to pursure a dream of a start-up or something," says Gray.

"The CEO and the CIO are really respectful when that person leaves; they might even buy some of their products and really support them and they keep it visible within the team, and then sometimes, as a result, those people come back into the business."

If ambitious millennials do leave to see if the grass is greener, it's important to treat that as a new form of talent management, ensuring they depart viewing the company and its leaders in a positive light. If they don't return, it will still do wonders for your corporate brand.

"It might not be that they come back but you want them to leave saying 'my boss was really cool, they understood why I wanted to do this, I did a great job there and would consider going back, so if you've got an interview there you should definitely join'," says Gray.

"You almost have to have an exit strategy," agrees Doughty. "I think it's healthy to encourage them to search for roles outside as part of their career development."


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