With millennials expected to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, a task force has been formed by the Technology & Maintenance to develop a recommended practice for dealing with this new generation of workers and future business leaders.
“We want to lay the groundwork for this task force and begin to identify the strengths of the millennial generation,” said Chas Voyles, a regional service manager and manager of fleet service for Navistar, who is leading the task force.
“We want to have a clear understanding of different management styles existing within different organizations and how they relate to millennials and build a repeatable guide to understand how to retain, grow and empower the millennial generation.”
Millennials, or Generation Y, are individuals born between 1980 and 2000. By 2020, millennials will be a third of all adults in the U.S.
Task force members said this particular generation is much different than those who preceded them and it is important to look at ways of getting them into the industry and nurturing their development once they are in it.
Jim Elkins, with Velocity and Freightliner Arizona, said that high school levels kids do not understand how technical the trucking industry is and he suspects that those in the Millennial generation do not either.
“We need to introduce them to the computer and technical side,” he said. “If we don’t touch the high schools now, it’s going to be too late. They have no idea how technologically advanced our industry is.”
Several task force members said the new generation of workers in the industry, particularly those in shops, do not necessarily look at their jobs the same way their parents did.
Susan Fall, with Launch It, said her company gathered information on the topic for a presentation last year and found the way to reach Millennials is different than what others responded to.
“They want to make a difference and see that their efforts are appreciated,” she said. “They don’t care about climbing the corporate ladder as much as they just want to be appreciated and recognized for their work.”
She said that most look at incentives such as flexible schedules and days off as benefits that they desire.
With more than 80 million Americans considered to be Millennials, finding the right buttons to push to reach this audience is very important, Voyles said.
“We need to understand what we already know about millennials, understand their approach to a career, how do they problem solve, how do we retain them. This is the future of the industry.”
Some task force members said Millennials are often misunderstood and assumed to be entitled or lazy, but they have found this generation to be hard working and driven – but they might need a little push.
“They want to work and they want to be appreciated and needed,” said Mark Willis, with HDA Truck Pride. “But they need to be pushed a little and given some guidance. On our end, we need to get back into technical training. This is a technical profession, not a trade. We are a profession, not a trade.”
Other said Millennials “want to be heard but they still want the guidance from someone pushing them. The more we can enhance their vision, the better they perform.”