“Millennials have arrived.”
That was the point hammered home by Ryan Avery early in his speech to the more than 1,000 attendees of the 2016 Uponor Connections 2016 convention March 30-April 1 at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.
The 29-year-old Avery is an author and world-champion public speaker and discussed with the assembled group — where millennials were few and far between — the differences between the generations. Avery also provided some interesting ideas on how to bridge the gap and engage millennials.
Avery outlined some of the basic qualities and characteristics of the latest group to enter the workforce, and how millennials see work and life outside the office differently than previous generations.
Of note, Avery reminded the baby boomers in the audience that they saw how hard their parents – those who lived through Great Depression and World War II — worked to provide for their family. The parents of boomers put in long hours in some of the toughest environments to make sure their kids had food on the table.
In turn, boomers worked incredibly hard to provide their kids with even more, including a car and money for college. When it comes to a business, Avery says baby boomers sought to create empires where millennials aim to create communities. He also believes the era of “big bonuses” is over because millennials appreciate littler bonuses — maybe something as simple as a company paying for a Netflix subscription.
Other tidbits Avery presented to Uponor’s guests (including engineers, contractors, reps and more) included allowing millennials to have social media breaks throughout the day — something akin to a smoke break.
Avery’s presentation was engrossing because there is a sharp contrast between the generations, especially in the more traditional plumbing industry. How the leaders of our industry adjust to the changing employee landscape needs to be at the forefront of discussion, he says.
As a person born in late 1981 (Dec. 18 to be exact), I technically fall under the millennial umbrella. That said, I feel there are major differences between a person approaching his 35th birthday and a recent college graduate. And because of that, I believe a middle ground can be found.
A little bonus such as a paid-in-full Netflix subscription would be wonderful (a premium subscription would cost only $144 per year, plus taxes), but allowing for designated social media breaks seems silly simply because with smartphones any moment can turn into a social media break.
As an older millennial, I can tell you pandering is not a good look and easy to spot. In my millennial world, pandering is infuriating and would make me instantly run from a potential job. All I ask for is to be part of the conversation regarding company policy and future plans.
I do understand ceding some ground to the younger generation might be tough to give up, but millennials have arrived and we are a different breed — even amongst our generation we are tough to classify because we all have different aspirations.
It falls on you to pick the best course of action. Avery summed it up nicely.
“If you don’t like change, you won’t like being irrelevant.”
This article was originally titled “Time to evolve” in the May 2016 print edition of PM Engineer.