November 15, 2015 / employee incentives, industry news, maintaining talent, operator training, skills gap, strategic planning
As more and more Baby Boomers near retirement, most industrial metal-cutting organizations are being forced to replace the lion’s share of their workforce, including senior management. Unfortunately, a lot of workers that should be the natural replacement—Generation X—never really took an interest in manufacturing, so many companies are now looking to Millennials (also known as Generation Y) to fill the gap. In fact, an article from California Manufacturing Technology Consulting (CMTC) estimates that by 2025, three out of four people in the American workforce will fall into the Millennials category, which includes individuals born between the 1980s and 2000s.
The challenge for manufacturers, then, has been finding ways to attract this up-and-coming generation of workers. This has initiated several discussions within the industry about some of the characteristics of Millennials and what companies need to do to cater to their “tendencies.” On the plus side, some experts are saying Millennials are tech-savvy optimists that have a lot to offer the manufacturing industry. Others, however, are stereotyping them as self-centered and sheltered.
In an effort to find some real answers about Millennials, IBM conducted a multi-generational, global study of employees from both small and large organizations. In the study, the manufacturing giant compared the preferences and behavioral patterns of Millennials with those of Gen X and Baby Boomers. What IBM found was surprising.
“We discovered that Millennials want many of the same things their older colleagues do,” the company wrote on its website. “While there are some distinctions among the generations, Millennials’ attitudes are not poles apart from other employees’.”
Based on the study results, IBM debunks five common myths about Millennials:
- Myth 1: Millennials’ career goals and expectations are different from those of older generations.
- Fact: Millennials place much the same weight on many of the same career goals as older employees do.
- Myth 2: Millennials want constant acclaim and think everyone on the team should get a trophy.
- Fact: Millennials want a manager who’s ethical and fair. They think it’s less important to have a boss who recognizes their accomplishments.
- Myth 3: Millennials are digital addicts who want to do everything online.
- Fact: Millennials’ top three preferences for learning new skills at work are physical, not virtual.
- Myth 4: Millennials, unlike their older colleagues, can’t make a decision without first inviting everyone to weigh in.
- Fact: Gen X – even more than Millennials – believes in soliciting lots of opinions.
- Myth 5: Millennials are more likely than others to jump ship if a job doesn’t fulfill their passions.
- Fact: Employees of each generation share the same reasons for changing jobs.
Regardless of what you may or may not have believed about Millennials, here’s another fact: They will be a large part of the workforce and, as a result, will play a role in the success of your company. Some metals executives, like Bob Weidner, president of the Metal Service Center Institute, are welcoming this new influx of workers and look forward to the opportunities they offer the industry. In his editorial, “To the Class and Industry Leaders of 2015,” Weidner writes:
“We are now aggressively looking for a new generation of creative employees. A new workforce of leading edge innovators with the talent, intellect and productive energy that will keep the American metals industry ahead of the global pack in the face of a gale of disruptive forces that are altering the way we do business. We are looking for dedication, for people who want to do meaningful, socially important work in these shifting times.”
Weidner goes on to state that it is important for the metals executives to continually look at the industry and the workforce “through a new lens” and that companies should always welcome “opportunities to adapt.” As pointed out by the e-book Five Performance-Boosting Best Practices for your Industrial Metal-Cutting Organization, this may require some companies to change the way they train and maintain talent, whether that means beefing up training programs or rethinking their hiring tactics. For others, it may mean simply figuring out how to leverage the strengths of a multi-generational workforce. Either way, change within the workforce is happening. Perhaps it’s time to adapt.
How is your company preparing for the next generation of workers?