Managing the workforce is a high priority and a stressful undertaking at best for most real estate companies. Today, as a new generation begins to dominate the workforce, they bring challenges to what were many of the traditional best practices for hiring and retention.
Today, understanding what Millennials want from their employer and their workplace environment must also be considered and is one of the keys to attracting, developing and motivating this talented mega workforce. Millennials are a force to be reckoned with as they are changing the workplace in ways we have never seen before.
Some 88 million strong, born between 1977 and 1997, Millennials make up the largest segment of the U.S. population. Obviously, it is impossible to paint all Millennials with one broad brush, just as it would be unfair to say all Baby Boomers behave this way or that. But there are talents that are common to this generation that hiring managers and senior executives need to note if their corporate goal is to remain relevant to a new generation of occupier, client, investor or partner.
For example, this is the first generation to grow up in the age of technology, and this fact alone has developed in this generation a unique set of skills. For this tech-savvy generation the advances of social media—such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and YouTube—are second nature. As a result, they are more comfortable working in the global environment the Internet provides, as well as multitasking and performing research. They are also conscious of the environment and are highly social. These are highly desirable skills—or should be—for their application in such disciplines as marketing, client interaction and brand recognition, especially as those clients themselves begin to speak the same technological language.
The up-and-coming generation is also inclined to take advantage of the various websites that have replaced the footwork formerly associated with major life or business decisions. For instance, the entire leasing experience—from both a professional and personal standpoint, can be done online, as can investment decisions. Online tools, from trip management to stock purchases, cater to this growing population.
This talented workforce can serve as a superb resource for understanding how such products and services will be welcomed by the industry. In a growing movement toward reverse mentoring, the Millennial generation can assist senior members of an organization in embracing these new technologies. Millennials want a seat at the table now and the freedom to pursue their ideas, to be challenged intellectually and express themselves openly. They want to immerse themselves in the company, but to do so and bring value they must understand the company’s mission and vision.
But there is a downside. They can be perceived as impatient, demanding and wielding different expectations, attitudes and ambitions than previous generations. Work/life balance is a high priority for them, but they clearly put life ahead of work. This characteristic is seen by some employers as laziness or disloyalty. But, frankly, for most of the dedicated young professionals I have encountered, these perceptions couldn’t be farther from the truth.
So how do you motivate and retain this very different class of worker? Here are suggestions that can be considered best practices not only for Millennials, but indeed for all workers:
Promote job shadowing. Training must be participative so your new employee can learn actively what the job is about. Allow them to engage fully with their co-workers and let their creativity shine through. Such hands-on training will also promote a more collaborative environment later on.
Provide positive feedback. While all feedback is important, this is a generation that responds better to critique couched in healthier terms. It presents to them a reassuring hand.
Embrace flexible work schedules. A direct product of the tech movement, flex schedules provide the opportunity for everyone to define their job and focus on that all-important work/life balance. The measure of success is no longer when you punch in or out, but how you get the job done.
Allow two-way mentoring. It is important that senior team members show young professionals the nuances of the business. Likewise, those same young professionals can unfold for seniors the economies and efficiencies, as well as the global opportunities, available online.
Accept self-expression. Your new hire may come with tattoos, piercings and other forms of ornamentation that may not speak to you, but will resonate with much of your clientele, which is also experiencing those cultural shifts in their personnel. Such personal statements are no longer odd, but very much mainstream.
Integrate millennials with company leaders. New, fresh ideas are key to ensuring that your company remains relevant.
Advocate learning and upward mobility. If Millennials are charged with laziness or disloyalty, maybe they do not feel they are valued or allowed to contribute.
Keep in mind too that intuitive people can spot cursory employers. If the Millennial—or any worker, for that matter—does not believe their needs are being met, they will simply move on to the next opportunity. Statistics show that Millennials start families later in life. They’re not tied down and will change jobs if their needs are not met. On the other hand, if you embrace the above suggestions, your Millennial staff—and for that matter all employees—will give you 100 percent and do so for the long term.
It is time that we stop discounting viable employees as being unprofessional for looks or a perceived variant work ethic. Your organization can only gain by embracing producers who want to express themselves and seek the freedom to do so.
Lastly, if you are looking to hire Millennials, where do you look? Put down the newspaper. Pick up your iPad and go to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist and other social media sites.
In addition to her role as IREM 2015 president, Lori Burger serves as senior vice president of Eugene Burger Management Corp. in Rohnert Park, Calif.