CRYSTAL LAKE – Even with a tough job market, today’s millennial workforce is looking for much more than a job, which is something their employers appreciate.
Shari Gray, executive director of Woodstock Chamber of Commerce & Industry, is one of the many area business leaders who have watched the young generation of workers change the way companies operate.
Gone are the days of 9-to-5 shifts. Work can be done anytime and anywhere as conference rooms have been replaced by coffee shops and memos replaced by text messages.
“I think what I have seen from this generation is they are not just invested in themselves, but they are invested in their company,” Gray said. “From the people I have encountered, there seems to be a passion there that is kind of refreshing. They take their role to that next level.”
Major companies also have adapted the ways in which they recruit the top young talent they seek.
Steve Osborne, a recruiter for Centegra Health System, said technology plays a larger role than ever before but the message is also different. He said prospective employees more than ever seek a company where values and goals align with their own.
With job hopping more accessible than ever, Osborne said laying out a path for career advancement and acting on the values the company promotes is important in retention.
“I was just interviewing candidates today who were reciting our values to me,” Osborne said. “I sometimes hear the negativity, but it’s an awesome generation. They have a really tough and competitive work search. That’s why when they enter the workforce, what the company stands for is important to them.”
Emily Capdevielle, who graduated in 2010 with a journalism degree, said many of her peers do not see entering the workforce as getting a job or even a career but advancing a lifestyle.
Capdevielle, who works for Freshly Baked Communications in Crystal Lake, said because of the competition for jobs, prospective employees need a passion for what they do just as she has for writing.
When she is not at Freshly Baked Communications she is working on her freelance projects or networking as a member of the Young Professionals with the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce.
“I think the whole 9-to-5 idea is unrealistic,” Capdevielle said. “It has to be a passion. For me it was definitely a passion to write for a living, and if I didn’t have that to drive me to work as long or hard as I do I wouldn’t be where I am.”
Gray said that constant work mode found in many young workers has created a more casual approach to business as the divide between personal life and professional life becomes less distinguished.
She said some businesses are hesitant to make the adjustments of informally communicating with employees whether that means sending texts or even changing the language and slang in the workplace.
“Employers need to be more open and know they’re not hiring a person to fill a spot at a desk,” Gray said. “Millennials have a different approach to business. They bring their personality because what they do is part of their personal life. They invest in the company. It’s kind of refreshing.”
The millennials looking to get in the workforce have noticed their peers approach to business and are taking steps to stand out in the same way.
Toni Ehredt, a sophomore at McHenry County College, helped launch the first-ever student radio station on campus to learn more skills and get involved at a deeper level of her ultimate passion of filmmaking and graphic arts.
She said immersing herself in all forms of communication will make her more versatile for potential employers and help build the habit of being in a near constant work mode.
“I think we expect a level of personal freedom where we want to have a real voice in the company,” Ehredt said. “But we expect them to invest like that in us so we need to invest in them and that means putting the time in. I don’t know if that is something everyone in my generation gets. You have to be in wholeheartedly.”