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Gray: Attracting Millennials to your workforce

Published: Saturday, May 3, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

Millennials is the common name given to workers of the demographic cohort after Generation X.

These workers are those with birth years between the early 1980s and early 2000s.

Other proposed names for Millennials include Generation Y, Generation We, Global Generation, Generation Next and Net Generation. Millennials also are sometimes referred to as Echo Boomers, as a reflection of the generation’s size compared to the Baby Boomer generation. Millennials are instrumental in our current and future workforce.

One question we face at the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce & Industry is how can our member businesses attract this young talent? According to authors William Strauss and Neil Howe (“Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation”), Millennials are more civic minded than predecessors Generation X.

The Pew Research Center released a report in March that said 49 percent of Millennials feel that the country’s best years are ahead – despite having higher levels of student loan debt and unemployment.

UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute reports an increase in students who consider wealth as an important attribute. Baby Boomers polled show 45 percent considered wealth as an important attribute, compared with 70 percent of Generation X representatives and 75 percent of Millennials. By contrast, those surveyed who indicated it is important to keep abreast of political affairs decreased from 50 percent for Baby Boomers to 39 percent for Generation Xers to 35 percent for Millennials.

Studies predict that Millennials will switch jobs frequently, holding many more jobs than Generation Xers, because of greater financial expectations. So, understanding that Millennials are more focused on wealth and less apt to stay in a position for the duration of their career, what can we as a business community do to recruit and retain this generation of the workforce?

In terms of recruiting Millennials, one factor is financial. Millennials are looking for wealth far earlier than previous generations. To attract Millennials, companies in McHenry County need to be cognizant of current salary levels and offer salaries in the same range. Salary.com is a great resource for researching the going rate for new employees. If we start off the recruitment drive with competitive salaries, Millennials won’t need to job hop to achieve the financial stability they seek.

McHenry County businesses have another selling factor beyond finance. Millennials are far more civic minded than workers of the Baby Boomer or Generation X eras. We need to sell them not only on salary, but on the community they’ll be working in.

McHenry County is a fabulous business environment. It combines the best of both worlds: a strong sense of heritage and a growth-oriented business climate. In other words, our community is growing quickly as we attract more and more new businesses of all sizes and types, but we also have the attraction of legacy, tradition and customs to appeal to Millennials’ sense of civic pride.

The Woodstock Chamber of Commerce & Industry is dedicated to helping our member businesses in the community not only succeed, but prosper on a grand scale. Attracting and retaining Millennials is key to the continued success of our members, and the Chamber is here to help facilitate that.

Our annual State of the City Luncheon will have valuable information that will help you prepare your recruitment selling points. Occurring on May 21 at the Stage Left Café, 125 E. Van Buren St., Woodstock, the State of the City Luncheon is only $25 per person and seating is limited to 70.

For information on joining the Woodstock Chamber, or to reserve tickets for the State of the City Luncheon, call 815-338-2436 or email Chamber@woodstockilchamber.com.

We look forward to being your partner in your quest for success.

• Shari Gray is executive director of the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce. Reach the chamber at chamber@woodstockilchamber.com or 815-338-2436.

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