Amy Dobrikova president of Intelligent Fleet Solutions provides tips on how fleets can recruit and retain millennials during a special session at the 2017 NTEA Work Truck Show Fellow panelist Andrew Dawson marketing and advertising manager at Muncie Power Products listens on Photo by Cristina Commendatore for Fleet Owner

What to know about recruiting and retaining millennials

March 20, 2017
INDIANAPOLIS. Millennials. They’re the generation known for being technologically driven and savvy on social media. They’re multitaskers, they’re civic minded, and they crave diversity. And there are more than 80 million of them.

INDIANAPOLIS. Millennials. They’re the generation known for being technologically driven and savvy on social media. They’re multitaskers, they’re civic minded, and they crave diversity. And there are more than 80 million of them.

“This is the first generation to grow up in a truly globalized society,” according to Amy Hirsh Robinson, principal, Interchange Group. “The way in which they communicate is so different than older generations. They grew up in the most diverse society and they expect that in the work place.”

Robinson was addressing attendees during a special session on how to recruit millennials at the 2017 NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis. Throughout the session, a panel of five millennial participants who work in the trucking industry provided tips and answered questions on how the industry could do better when it comes to recruiting and retaining millennials.

“I’ve said this before, I love you all dearly, but this is not the most diverse group,” Robinson quipped.

Shifts in demographics slide shown during NTEA's special session on recruiting and retaining millennials.

Millennials were born between 1982 and 2000. They’ve lived through 9/11, the Iraq wars, mass school shootings, and the election of the first biracial president. According to Robinson, the generation is optimistic and confident, requires constant interaction and feedback, values teamwork and participation, and enjoys multitasking and multimedia.

“They want to find meaning in their work from the very beginning,” she explained. “This generation has dealt with extreme debt. This generation is buying homes at a lower rate. They are postponing marriage and having children. And they are moving back in with their parents due to social and economic reasons.”

Some of the issues Robinson said she hears around millennials is that they are known for asking employers for promotions or money. But she noted she believes there is a lot of misinformation out there that needs to be deconstructed.

In order to deconstruct the misinformation that she believes surrounds the millennial generation, Robinson turned the conversation over to attendees and the millennial panelists. Here are some of the highlights from the session.

What are some good ways to recruit millennials?

Panelists from left Nathan Gibson, Jennifer Pelllersels, Melissa Bergkamp, and Andrew Dawson

“I think LinkedIn is a phenomenal resource,” said panelist Nathan Gibson, vice president of sales at Canfield Equipment. “When I was looking to hire, it was easy for me to search and hire. I think LinkedIn is a great source for everyone.”

Panelist Jennifer Pellersels, customer relations manager at Altec Industries, suggested companies set up internship and mentorship programs to help employees grow within the organization.

Asked why millennials often take a job for a year or two before moving onto the next and asked if he expects to be with his company in the next five years, Andrew Dawson, who is the marketing and advertising manager at Muncie Power Products, said he expects he will be remain at Muncie.

“Muncie Power provides a career path,” Dawson explained. “They’re not making promises, but they’re showing you paths that are available that you can work towards. It’s important to know there’s opportunity for growth. It’s understanding that path that will help millennials stay longer. It’s when they don’t know that I think they’re more likely to jump.”

Gibson added that he believes some millennials leave the job after a short amount of time due to circumstances that arise in their daily lives. For instance, he explained, it’s difficult for millennials with student loan debt to live on a single income. He stated a lot of the hopping around is caused by major life events, like marriage or a spouse or significant other relocating to take a better job.

Amy Dobrikova, president of Intelligent Fleet Solutions, added: “I think millennials are being recruited a lot and they’re advancing much quicker when they leave. I’m not endorsing doing that, but it’s what’s happening.”

Networking and training

When it comes to networking and on-site training, Dawson advised that employers try to make it easier for employees and develop new ways to engage them.

“Occasionally, we’ll have company lunches, and I love my team, but I sit with them and interact with them every day,” he explained. “I will purposely go sit with other people and suggest they do the same. I try to encourage them to get to know those people they don’t know. I tell them it’s going to be awkward, but you have to work through it.”

Dobrikova mentioned one of the problems is that millennials aren’t taught to communicate well one-on-one in school. “They’re used to communicating like this all day long,” she said. “I think we need to do a better job in school learning to talk one-on-one and learning how to talk to people generally – not just when we’re trying to sell them something.”

As far as training goes, Dobrikova stated learning by example from more veteran employees worked best for her.

“I think it’s important for all generations to not judge the person immediately,” she advised. “I went in with a client and he saw my resume and experience and when we met he looked at me shocked when he saw I was younger. I feel like we immediately put a wall up and close the door. Let’s look at how millennials can benefit older generations and how older generations can benefit millennials.”

Why do millennials ask for raises before they’re ready or have mastered a skill?

Amy Hirsh Robinson, principal, Interchange Group

Robinson told attendees that one of the questions she is asked regularly is why millennial employees are always asking for raises prematurely. She turned the question over to panelists.

“I think that’s a management question,” Gibson stressed. “If you don’t lay out [the company plan], who wouldn’t be aggressive and ask for a raise?”

“The number one reason people leave is lack of appreciation,” Dobrikova explained. “Some might feel more appreciated if you take them out to lunch. Some might feel more appreciated with words of acclimation.”

No matter which way employers think about it, Robinson stressed that they use the opportunity to get to know their employees as a call to action. “I encourage you to get more curious and have more conversations across the generations,” she advised. “Learn how people want to receive feedback, and what their challenges are in terms of work.”

About the Author

Cristina Commendatore

Cristina Commendatore was previously the Editor-in-chief of FleetOwner magazine. She reported on the transportation industry since 2015, covering topics such as business operational challenges, driver and technician shortages, truck safety, and new vehicle technologies. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.

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