Millennials in the workplace, how to attract, engage and retain them were just a few of the topics highlighted in the monthly Good Morning, North Augusta breakfast session, sponsored by the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce.
A panel discussion, moderated by Manpower operations manager Nate Lauger, was made up of young professionals from assorted industries. Tashara Johnson, HR generalist of Aurubis Richmond, LLC; Haley Napier, business development manager at Manpower; Jimmie Smith, workforce innovation coordinator at Shamrock Social Impact and Jeannine Steinkuhl, director of sales for Crowne Plaza, all fielded questions first from the moderator then from the audience.
Questions ranged from the most basic, like the differences between millennials and Baby Boomers, to more complex discussions about navigating conflicts between generations.
Steinkuhl said some of the primary differences between millennials, Gen Z, Gen X and boomers are how each approached the use of technology and the need for instant gratification.
“I would rephrase that to say, utilization of technology as a resource to be more productive,” she said. “At the end of the day, that is everyone’s common goal, whether you’re the employer, whether you’re the employee.”
She went on to say she would flip instant gratification to being opportunistic.
“Any sort of opportunity that you can drive results faster, and utilize those resources, resources in order to accomplish that? Why not? Doesn’t everyone want instant gratification at the end of the day?” she asked. “So, I would say there is no difference in what the end goal is for any generation. It’s just a matter of how we process that.”
The panelists said developing relationships with people of different generations can be an important factor in understanding each one’s perspective.
“I’m not going to lie. I mean, it’s a little intimidating. You walk into a room with people with 20 plus years of experience, and I’m going to be here with my six, or almost six,” said Napier. “But I’m here to learn. I’m here to gain experience. And that’s what the younger generation is here for.”
Napier said mentors, finding one or being one, can be especially impactful.
“Mentors are a thing. So, if you can get a mentor or if you have a mentor, it is 100% probably one of the most beneficial things I’ve ever done,” she said. “And not just one, one from several different aspects, whether it’s personal, whether it’s professional, or both, they make such a big difference.”
One question that struck a nerve was how to deal with employees who spend time on social media outlets while at work.
Steinkuhl said she’s fine with employees checking social media, as long as it is in moderation. She likened it to a digital cigarette break.
“So long as it’s not too ridiculous. So long as it’s not impeding your ability to be productive and to get the job done,” she explained. “When you don’t get the job done. And you’ve spent half of your day on TikTok, then yes, I do have a problem with that. So, I think it’s just a, on a case-by-case basis.”
All the panelists said there is a need for all generations, both employers and employees, to communicate clearly. To take time, to learn each other’s work ethic and how tasks will be accomplished. At the end of the day, the goal is for the business to be successful.