It happened quickly. At least it felt that way as I went from being the youngest person on staff to being the old dude at the office. But, in retrospect, there were several stages.

Back in the day, co-workers would come up to me asking what I was doing on the weekend. They were no doubt living vicariously through the shenanigans that would make up my weekend. I transitioned slowly into the older guy who was in most office conversations but wouldn’t get the lunch invite. Now, I am the even older guy who elicits no jealousy when describing his weekend plans. I’m not sure why the kids’ soccer games, a trip to The Home Depot, or watching “This is Us” on the DVR does not interest my co-workers.

To make me feel even older — enter the millennials. Now, they get a bad rap. The mere mention of the term causes eye rolls and head shaking, or as the millennials would say, RME and SMH. In fact, a lot of millennials themselves complain about millennials. My brother-in-law argued to me that he was not a millennial even though he was born in 1986.

I get his point of not wanting to be associated. Start a simple search on Google with “Millennials are,” and see how the search engine finishes that sentence. When I typed it in, the first three responses were killing, lazy, and ruining.

But, based on my experiences with the millennial workforce, perception is not reality. With an aging workforce, the HVAC industry is in no position to thumb its nose at any generation when looking for good employees. According to Pew Research, more than one-in-three American workers today are millennials.

The key is finding the right ones and watching as they bring energy and intelligence into your company.  I feel we have done that here at The NEWS. They work hard — and as it turns out, they also play hard. But, they have a set of skills that brings great value to the organization.

Of course, they are great at technology. I have been working in Microsoft Word for more than 20 years before an employee showed me two weeks ago that I can save notes in the documents — click insert, click comments, and type — it’s amazing. That alone made her worth the hire.

Millennials are also eager to demonstrate leadership and are not afraid to speak up. When I first started at The NEWS, I would be as quiet as a mouse during staff meetings lest people find out what little I knew. This new group holds no such fear. All their ideas are not home runs, but many of them are.

Is it all candy and nuts? Certainly not. This social generation can get a little too social at times, and it has agitated some older co-workers who work on other magazines. I have fielded a couple of calls from human resources responding to complaints about the volume of the staff. But, I believe that is a small price to pay to have a group of people who don’t dread coming to work every day.

The other big complaint is they don’t stay at a job very long. If that is the case, blame the company, not the individual. Provide them what they require — within reason — and it will pay off. The fact that they might have had a few jobs in the past allows them to adapt quickly to the changing circumstances that go on in your business.

So, don’t buy into the hype. In an industry that needs good people, pay special attention to the younger generation. Bring them into your company, and mold them into what you need.

I am glad we did that here at The NEWS. Sure the millennials don’t understand my dated references and goof on me because I still use Internet Explorer, but I can deal with that.  

Publication date: 11/20/2017

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