John Doe, service manager, Hot and Cold HVAC, was excited to welcome in one of his newest employees, Joe Snow, for a mid-year interview.

Snow, a scholar graduate from the nearby community college, boasts a list of certifications, and his soft skills are off the chart. He can even hold a conversation with Linda Lou — yes, every company has a Linda Lou.

Snow’s never late for an appointment, has an uncanny ability to close sales, and often convinces homeowners they should invest in add-on air-cleaning components.

Needless to say, the company is ecstatic to have him on staff.

After a bit of small talk, Doe acknowledges the prospect’s progress and says he and the owner are extremely pleased with his performance thus far.

And, before informing Snow that he’s earned a 4 percent pay raise, he asks, “How do you feel about your future here?”

“Not very good,” Snow replies, with little hesitation.

“What do you mean, not very good?” Doe responds, doing his best to mask his ever-apparent astonishment.

“Well, I like the company, but look at Steve (the older, experienced tech). He does the same thing I’m doing and he’s 20 years older than I am. That type of flat progression doesn’t appeal to me. I need more out of my career.”

Thinking on his feet, Doe counters: “Well, as older workers retire, we’ll be in need of senior management, and, while you’ve only been here a few months, we certainly feel you have leadership potential.”

“Steve said you told him the same thing 20 years ago,” Snow snapped back. “How do I know I’m not the next Steve?”


Be prepared to have conversations like the one detailed above.

According to the latest U.S. census estimates, millennials (those born between 1982 and 2000) now outnumber baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964).

These young workers think a little differently than their predecessors. Their actions can be interpreted as impatient and self-centered. They view employment as a contract rather than a commitment. They tend to work to live rather than live to work. They’re willing to wear their emotions on their sleeves (see: tattoos) and won’t hesitate to celebrate mediocrity with ninth place ribbons. (Disclaimer: These are stereotypes, please don’t crucify me.)

Father time is undefeated. The elder statesmen of the industry are aging. If your business is to survive, you will be hiring millennials sooner rather than later.

Thus, as hard-working traditionalists, how do you tame these high-maintenance, attention-seeking beasts?

In a previous NEWS article, Mike Atchley, president, Atchley Air, Fort Smith, Arkansas, noted: “Millennials require a lot of attention. They are extremely confident in their abilities — sometimes a bit too confident — and attention is needed to make sure they don’t get in over their heads. They aren’t afraid of anything, but it does take more work to keep them happy and focused.”


It’s important to remember that not every member of today’s youth fits the “millennial” mold. There are good kids out there. And, while finding these gems may take time and effort, the payoff is often well worth the investment. In fact, your company depends on it.

Growing up in a technological world, millennials are quick to turn to their smartphones to complete any task. Be prepared to use these quirks to your advantage (stick them on social media). Be flexible. Consider rewards you’ve never considered before. Invest in new ttechnology. You’ll likely be amazed at what these young minds can accomplish with a tablet.

And, remember, you’re not the only company in this position. Everyone’s going through it.

And, let’s face it — everyone’s different. You’re not lazy, you don’t lead an inactive lifestyle, and you aren’t simply treading water until retirement. Though, based solely on baby boomer stereotypes, that’s exactly what you are. Make sure you’re not viewing millennials from the same viewpoint.

Publication date: 7/20/2015

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