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Millennial Truth: A Closer Look at How Gen-Y Work in Today’s Workforce

By Daniel A. Washington

Kelly Services’ Mark Lanfear, vice president and global practice leader of life sciences solutions, has spent years helping health care companies get the most out of their millennial talent and the rapidly changing workforce.

millennialQuick to point out the surge of millennials entering the workforce, Lanfear describes the often-misunderstood employee group as “driven and more talented” than some employers would like to admit. The thought leader in talent management credits millennials for being efficient and often times the most valuable employees.

“I think the biggest myth when it comes to millennials is that they have an attention problem or a devotion or a loyalty problem,” Lanfear said during an interview with the Detroit Regional Chamber. “It’s just that problems get solved more quickly and because of the way in which millennials focus on their work they don’t spend nearly as much time on finding solutions as previous generations.”


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Recalling a recent conversation with his older brother, Lanfear said millennials attract attention from industry leaders and companies across the region for good reasons. He said he believes that the rapidly increasing entrant to the workforce is changing the way companies think about employment and what they must offer.

“Right now, quicker than any other time, millennials are forced to take the wheel,” he said. “We talk about millennials being 30 percent of the population but they are already 40 percent of management.”

The staggering statistic he said is due to what he refers to as the “silver tsunami,” a common metaphor to describe the aging workforce population.

Lanfear,Mark

Mark Lanfear, vice president and global practice leader of life sciences solutions at Kelly Services

“We have what I like to call the ‘silver tsunami’ happening faster than anyone could have predicted. This is the population (Generation X) that is leaving the workforce,” he said. “Not just because of age, because that’s happening with the baby boomers, but also because a lot of people enjoyed a lot of success in the 1980s, and so there are pockets of folks around the globe that are financially secure and are stepping away from the workforce.”

With retention and attraction on the minds of business leaders, Lanfear encourages a different perspective on the matter: maximize a millennial’s potential by providing challenges and assignments related to their passions and let go of the idea of retaining them.

“Retention is a word that I have been asking clients to move away from,” said Lanfear. “Retaining a millennial workforce is going to be a challenge because it’s against their nature to stay especially when there is not a challenge or passion for them to commit to.”

Despite the misconceptions and labels associated with millennials, Lanfear said he is confident that as more research is done, those in the age group will become more understood. The numbers suggest that management styles and work cultures in the future will be defined by millennials who will be forced to leave a lasting mark in their roles in leadership positions.

“The wheel is just simply being handed to millennials fast,” he said. “So, I think we will see a lot changes as to how they are perceived in the coming years.”

Daniel A. Washington is a marketing and communications coordinator at the Detroit Regional Chamber.

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