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When Millennials Expect Too Much ($)

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March 8, 2010

 


Question:

Rebecca, I’m starting to feel old.

I currently have some younger people working for me.  I don’t think we see eye-to-eye on wages and the pace of raises (for example every few months) - not to mention the economy we are in. 

I started at the bottom of the totem pole in my firm, and I’ve been in the same place my Millennial employees are.

I was wondering if you had any suggestions for me, or for my younger employees. We are an office of only seven people, and I'd appreciate your help.

Al, Milwaukee, Wis.

Response:
Hi, Al,

I just got off the phone with a representative from a Fortune "Best Place to Work" and she was complaining about the same thing - salary and compensation expectations among new Millennial employees.

The core of the issue for her is that her Millennials have never worked anyplace else, and don't have a point of reference for appropriate pay/perks/etc. In addition, their workplace culture is very open and accommodating, which many of her younger, inexperienced employees take as a sign that they can ask for anything.

Does any of this resonate with you?

Some ideas to consider:
(1) Shift the conversation away from pay and focus on the real "rewards" of working in your office. Small businesses are among the best places to learn ALL parts of a profession; I bet your Millennial employees are having experiences with you that they couldn't have at a larger firm.

(2) If your Millennial is not happy and likely never will be, suggest that it may be time for them to look for a different opportunity that aligns with their hopes and needs. Don't suggest this with an attitude of spite; come to this conversation from a place of honesty and openness. Someone who wants what you can't give isn't a good business associate, family member, or spouse!

(3) To the extent that you can, lay out your best guess as to when/how rewards will increase. For example, if you only give bonuses when there's a profit, say so, and tell the employee how much profit (or lack of it) there is. From personal experience, we have open book management in our firm - in good times and in bad times - and none of our interns or teammates have ever asked for more when the economy's in the toilet, because they can clearly see that there isn't 'more' to give.

Best wishes, Al.



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