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The Value of the Millennials in Your Workforce

A lot has been written about workforce development anxiety in Canada. How when the Boomers retire, the world as we know it will grind to a halt. Because, they have all the experience and therefore when they walk out the office, or exit the company doors, there goes the knowledge and experience of the entire generation and how it will affect company operations.

To an extent, there is perhaps some truth to this angst. But from a Boomer’s perspective, I have to remind you that there is a lot to be thankful for when it comes to millennials. First, they are a generation that has been through the 2008/09 market crash. It may have not affected them directly, but certainly they have heard about it, particularly from their parents and other adults who were in the workforce at the time.

They also grew up in a time where post secondary education was heralded as a sure thing for career success. And they were part of a generation that had to deal with the stress of making grades to get into their preferred choice of education. Plus, they were trained to use the computer, then their phone, as their communication tool of choice. And they embraced the Internet. They had no choice, because assignments needed to be retrieved online and also submitted in the same fashion.

Now that they are part of the workforce, if they have been able to find a job that is, they are equipped with a vast arsenal of knowledge and techniques that Gen Xs and Boomers wish they had. Millennials know software, computers, mobile devices, new ways of retrieving information – and new way of disseminating information, how to act responsibly online, how to develop relationships without ever meeting people, and still have a life.

And because of all the challenges they have encountered along the way, moving from msn type texting when they were still in elementary school, to full fledged Facebook dependencies and anxieties, to getting their (fake) news from Twitter today, they have had to deal with some important realities.

Millennials were asked to invest in running up large student loans to ensure their success in life, which turned out to be somewhat of a myth (also check out this article about Millennials on Inc. magazine). One should not be surprised that they have a hard time trusting their older employers that in due course they will be alright. From their perspective, having been told that they need 5-7 careers in their lifetime, who should they believe?

I just hope that they will find a career that is rewarding as mine, because from my experience, the Millennials could be possibly the brightest generation that has come along in some time. If only the Boomers cut them some slack and give them an opportunity to proof themselves, we’re going to be much further ahead.

Perhaps I’m more exposed to their smarts than most people, since they have a big presence in my day-to-day work environment, but I for one have a lot of confidence that they are the generation we all can count on to ensure that our future is as bright as our past.

– Martin van Zon