Hiring and Leading a Millennial Workforce

At only 28-years-old, Justin Wetherill has defied the odds by building a $90MM+ business in just seven years.

He started the business out of his bedroom with just two friends and a dream, not yet knowing that it would evolve into a leading tech repair brand with nearly 180 stores across North America. Wetherill and his partners built the enterprise with no debt, no loans, no venture capital. How? They offered overqualified friends jobs at $10 an hour, promising them the opportunity to own their own store if they stayed with it. This exchange has paid off for both parties in a big way, and the MBA-grads who lent their talents years ago now own their own franchises––and many of them are still under the age of 30.

Is Wetherill’s unorthodox path to success a testament to the millennial generation? Millennials are sometimes seen as a challenging, yet necessary asset to the modern workforce, and businesses are adapting in the wake of the generation’s growing influence. The following are tips on hiring and leading a millennial workforce, according to Wetherill. They may be able to help you tailor your business to the changing climate, too.

1) The Entitlement Advantage: Define Clear Expectations

A lot of people say the millennial generation is entitled––and they’re not necessarily wrong. Millennials have been told their potential is limitless, opinions are valuable, and work deserves reward. Whether you agree with this attitude or not, the notion is so ingrained in the millennial mind that all you can do as an employer is learn to use it advantageously. For example, once you understand the root of millennial “entitlement,” you can actually harness it as a form of motivation. How? By setting clear expectations and attainable goals. Millennials appreciate when employers reward their work and acknowledge their value, so creating a system that fulfills both of these desires allows for a motivational, encouraging workplace. It is important to implement clear metrics for performance evaluation, as well as set dates for quarterly reviews to communicate progress.

It is also wise to note that millennials grew up in a more competitive world than generations past, so they are used to evaluating themselves within the context of their peers. It’s good to be aware of this inherent competitive nature so that you can encourage teamwork, while still providing opportunities for individuals to distinguish themselves among their peers. Overall, communication is crucial for everyone to know what is expected and what goals they are working towards, both as a team and individually.

2) Cubicle Phobia: Create Progressive Opportunities

Another key to attracting millennials is creating new and diverse opportunities for them. Think about it this way: our grandparents saw their parents working in factories and decided they wanted something better for themselves, so much of their generation entered into semi-manual labor. Then, our parents saw our grandparents’ work and strove for something more, so many of them went into the business world. Now, this generation has watched its parents work in a cubicle, and it’s saying “I don’t want to sit at a desk; I want something more.” You have to keep up with these attitudinal shifts and cater your business model accordingly if you want to attract the next generation workforce and ensure your business’ longevity.

3) Cultivating Teamwork: Don’t Underestimate the Value of Company Culture

Increasingly, millennials applicants are choosing companies based on culture above all else. The foundation of a company’s culture is its people, so be intentional when choosing your team members. When hiring, don’t just look at skill set––that era is over. You have to evaluate applicants on a holistic level, weighing their skills and experiences as well as their personalities. Ask yourself, “in addition to performing a technical job, will this person be a valuable addition to our internal culture?” If the answer is no, you might want to keep looking. A successful company is one that works as a team, across all offices and markets. The better everyone gets along, the more productive the team, so it’s not always about finding the smartest or most experienced applicants; it’s about finding people you want to work with. Finding applicants who reconcile expertise and charisma can be extremely difficult, but doing so will benefit your company in the long run.

At uBreakiFix, we believe that the above tips are what laid the groundwork for the success of our millennial-dense company. Our most recent employee survey showed that 90 percent of our employees want to come to work every day; this figure is rare for the retail industry, but we attribute it to our clear expectations, progressive opportunities, and team-focused culture. The millennial force is a strong one, and embracing it could be vital to your company’s longevity. You don’t need to do an entire company overhaul to win millennials; just consider implementing small changes to make your company more attractive to them. If there is one thing I’ve learned about this generation, it’s that if you invest heavily in them, they’ll invest heavily in you.


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