They’re labelled as lazy, entitled narcissists who are always on their smartphones. But if you want to hire millennials into your business – and you should – you better forget about those stereotypes.
That was the message from David Coletto, the CEO of Abacus Data, a market research firm at the fifth annual Women with Drive Leadership Summit hosted by Trucking HR Canada.
“Millennials are the most ethnically diverse, most entrepreneurial, most tech-savvy, and the most educated generation ever,” he said. “And it’s the biggest generation. In Canada there are 9.5 million millennials today.”
One common misconception about millennials, who are defined as those born between 1980-2000, is that they want to get hired and promoted immediately, they want to be paid a high salary without putting in their dues, and they care about nothing but their image.
This is untrue, Coletto said. In fact, he said this is a stereotype that’s been perpetuated for years.
“With every new generation, the expectation is so high for the group,” he said. “The most important thing we have to keep in mind is, millennials, women in particular, want the same things out of life and jobs that gen Xers and baby boomers want. They want job security. They want opportunity. The want to feel like they’re making an impact. And we forget that gen Xers and baby boomers want this same thing, but the path (millennials) take to achieve those goals may be different.”
The first step to building relationships with millennials and welcoming them into your company is to leave those biases at the door, Coletto said. He added that sure, there may be some millennials who fit the stereotype, but to color an entire generation with negative attributes is not only unfair, but unproductive in solving the shortage of workers in the trucking industry.
“Every older generation has been described in the exact same negative way by the generations before them,” he reminded the audience. “In the ‘70s the boomers were described as living in the ‘me’ decade. After that, the gen Xers were described as lost and rebelling against traditions.”
Instead of judging the millennial generation, Coletto said, business owners and managers should be focused on how millennials view the trucking industry. Because after all, that’s who needs to step into the roles we need filled.
Coletto’s company together with Trucking HR Canada conducted a national survey of Canadian millennials, and found that in answering the question: is trucking millennial-friendly?, overall it’s a mixed bag.
When it comes to pay, fulfillment, technology innovation, lifestyle, and environmentally friendly, trucking scored low on compared its closest industries, like construction.
On the image side, Coletto said most millennials believe there are lots of jobs in trucking, and they perceive those jobs to be well-paid. On the flip side, they also believe that trucking is too male-dominated, that truck drivers aren’t respected by others, and that those drivers don’t have a healthy work/life balance.
“That’s what this industry needs to overcome,” he said, adding that based on his research, trucking should target specific subsets of millennials.
“Recruiting the next generation of employees is challenging, but there is a group out there who are considering it,” he said. “High school graduates, older millennials looking for a career change, and those who want to work with their hands.”
Overall, he said, trucking needs to change its current approach if it wants to succeed in attracting millennials.
“Ultimately, the industry has to change,” he said. “The way you’ve done things for 20 years is not going to work…There is a lot of opportunity to recruit this generation, and know that there is a generation out there that is not completely closed.”