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Millennials are shaping the workplace, now

Thursday, July 28, 2016  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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RANCHO PALOS VERDES, CALIFORNIA -- Millennials are no longer the "new generation" -- they are the "now generation" – and they are reshaping the way companies must recruit and develop talent and how leaders must lead, senior executives from Accenture, Acosta, AT&T Business Solutions and Mars Chocolate, Acosta told 300 of their peers at the NEW Executive Leaders Forum, July 27, 2016 at Terranea Resort.

Gerarda Van Kirk, Accenture’s managing director, management consulting, talent and organization was joined onstage by Acosta’s Chief Human Officer Margie Arion; Mars Chocolate North America President Tracey Massey; and Xavier Williams, executive vice president, global customer service, AT&T Business Solutions, for the "Growing Business with Millennials” panel discussion.

The millennial generation, aged 18 to 35, now makes up the largest population in the United States. Gen Y is followed by Gen Z, predicted to be the biggest, richest, most independent generation ever, Van Kirk. Together, they are almost already 50 percent of the population.

Millennials represent $200 billion of annual spending power; they’ll spend $1.4 trillion annually by 2020. In the marketplace and workplace, millennials value personalization, experience, positioning and loyalty. Only one in seven want to work for a big company; more than half of recent grads feel they are underemployed. Nearly two-thirds are looking for more education: on the job, new experiences and coaching.

"Millennials are looking for a place they can feel proud to work,” Van Kirk said.

And, despite their reputation to the contrary, nearly 70 percent of recent grads say they expect to stay at their first job for at least three years – one-third would stay five years or longer. "This requires a new type of leader/coach who can make millennials feel someone is looking out for them,” Van Kirk said.

The millennial moment

At Acosta, senior management has found "moments really matter,” Arion said. "We want people to understand how we can win at home and work. It’s about not requiring folks to make a trade-off [between the two], but to have choices.” Acosta is soon introducing a tool to help managers have candid conversations so that we can support what is important to the employee inside and outside of work.”

A new leadership development program gives recent college grads a year experiences across functions before they pick a career at Acosta. "This is a great advantage for us when millennials are considering their career in terms of what other opportunities are available,” Arion said.

Other programs include a C-Suite Café, allowing employees to have virtual coffee with senior management and ask them direct questions about the business.

At Mars, careers are not "one size fits all,” according to Tracey Massey, president of Mars Chocolate NA. "We spend time learning about our associates and looking at what they do professionally and personally. What do they want to do? What is their development and how is their next role fitting into that? Should they stay in a function or move?”

The company values "storytelling” – when employees share their positive workplace experiences, such as being promoted while six months pregnant, or sitting with a senior executive at lunchtime to talk about the company. "These are the moments people remember and share with others,” Massey said.

AT&T’s Williams said millennials want to learn quickly. "We are offering more education, focusing on team skills, e-learning and coaching. Every young person anticipates they need to move their career many times. If we can set up our organization so that they can move inside the company that helps retention.”

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