Decoding the Millennials: Tactics That Engage and Retain

By Joyce Gioia CEO, Employer of Choice International, Inc. | June 05, 2011

For some hotel professionals, the Millennials, also known as Generation-Y, are an anathema; for others, they are simply a challenge to be met. However, whichever way you look at them, this generation is certainly different from all others. If you know which buttons to push, they can be extraordinary assets to your teams. Ignore them and they will leave. This article first explores the values and attitudes of these young workers, scans recent research detailing what they’re looking for, then offers some practical, low- and no-cost solutions to help you truly capitalize on these talented employees.

“They require so much attention”, my client said to me. “Our partners are going crazy, because they can’t get their work done.” My client was the office manager of a medium-size accounting firm, struggling with her fresh graduates who had never worked full-time in the profession.

Yes, the fact is, the Millennials do require more structure and supervision, but that’s just because they don’t want to make mistakes. Like most of us, “looking good” is very important to them. In addition, that value is just one of the things that are important to this youngest generation of workers. When we want to engage and retain a segment of the working population, we first look at their values and attitudes―because people make decisions based on these aspects of who they are.

Values and attitudes make a big difference

Values and attitudes are aspects that of our personalities which we hold most dear. Values are those things that are most important to us and attitudes are conditioned responses we have been reinforcing for years. This generation, in particular, has a unique set of values and attitudes. Work with them and you have very loyal and hard-working employees; ignore them and people will characterize them as “lazy” and “irresponsible”.

Millennials feel a high sense of “civic duty”. They want to “do the right thing” for their families and their communities. In fact, more Millennials have volunteered with their local non-profits than Generation Xers, the generation immediately before. With this value comes their placing a high value on both “morality” and especially, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Millennials will make decisions about which employers they will join, based on their belief that their prospective employer is a good corporate citizen that will support them in “making a difference” in the world. The global accounting and consulting firm Deloitte and Touche is able to recruit the best and the brightest, in part because of its attitudes on CSR. Want proof? Take a look at their video at

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Eco-Friendly Practices: The Greening of Your Bottom Line

There are strong moral and ethical reasons why a hotel should incorporate eco-friendly practices into their business but it is also becoming abundantly clear that “going green” can dramatically improve a hotel's bottom line. When energy-saving measures are introduced - fluorescent bulbs, ceiling fans, linen cards, lights out cards, motion sensors for all public spaces, and energy management systems - energy bills are substantially reduced. When water-saving equipment is introduced - low-flow showerheads, low-flow toilets, waterless urinals, and serving water only on request in restaurants - water bills are also considerably reduced. Waste hauling is another major expense which can be lowered through recycling efforts and by avoiding wastefully-packaged products. Vendors can be asked to deliver products in minimal wrapping, and to deliver products one day, and pick up the packaging materials the next day - generating substantial savings. In addition, renewable sources of energy (solar, geothermal, wind, etc.) have substantially improved the economics of using alternative energies at the property level. There are other compelling reasons to initiate sustainability practices in their operation. Being green means guests and staff are healthier, which can lead to an increase in staff retention, as well as increased business from health conscious guests. Also, sooner or later, all properties will be sold, and green hotels will command a higher price due to its energy efficiencies. Finally, some hotels qualify for tax credits, subsidies and rebates from local, regional and federal governments for the eco-friendly investments they've made in their hotels. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document how some hotels are integrating sustainable practices into their operations and how their hotels are benefiting from them.