Would I work for you?

Yetnayet Kenaw, Senior, Randolph Macon College

One college senior’s opinion on choosing an employer

My name is Yetnayet Kenaw. I am a student at Randolph Macon College, completing my degree in Business Management. As a young adult in the 21st century, I am considered a millennial and planning to join the full-time workforce this May.

My parents immigrated to the States while in their twenties, and I was raised here along with my two brothers. My parents discovered that my older brother had autism at a very young age. As I spent time helping to care for my brother through our adolescent years, I became his confidant and companion. Because of this experience, I matured quicker than my peers and initially joined the workforce when I was sixteen.

As a millennial, I am part of a generation that continues to grow and dominate the workplace. In the year 2020, millennials will account for half of the workforce and will have a substantial impact on the economy. As we enter the highly competitive job market, companies must identify the factors that will create the next generation of global leaders while securing the knowledge millennials bring to the table. When it comes to millennials, there is no such thing as “business as usual.” Today’s leaders will have to develop a more compelling strategy to entice millennials to join their companies. Failure to use strategic foresight in recognizing future trends and taking timely actions to change “old school” philosophy to attract talented employees will result in falling behind the competition.

For me, college is coming to an end, and the opportunity to choose who I work for and where I work is a new beginning. Graduating from college is a challenge and a great achievement. Unfortunately, graduation can be weighed down by heavy baggage—debt. Having taken out loans for all four years of my college career, something that I and many like myself will be looking for in a company after graduating is some form of tuition assistance. Whether it’s reimbursement for an undergraduate degree or assistance in starting a master’s degree, a program like this can encourage loyalty while allowing employees to excel at work. Also, tuition assistance can provide a benefit to the company, in that it would increase competition with opposing employers in the workforce.

Another important factor as I look to enter the full-time workforce is a technologically savvy work environment. The opportunity to use technological elements in our everyday work activities is so appealing to millennials. Anything from computer-
based presentations, online courses, videos, drones, and any type of industry-specific technology is a draw for my generation. Utilizing tech-based methods creates increased initiatives for millennials’ to work within teams and within the company structure. While working at my first job in the retail industry, employees were provided an iPod device to assist customers in the cost or location of a specific item. This technological advancement allowed us to excel in customer satisfaction ratings and create a fast-paced, customer-friendly environment. The average millennial seeks a structured organization where there are opportunities for multitasking and feedback, which aligns well with a company that has developed some sense for technological influence. “Millennials are first-
generation digital natives who feel at home on the Internet,” stated the guide How Millennials Want to Work and Live.

The potential for a work-life balance is an important factor for this new generation of employees. The possibility of a flexible work schedule or the ability to work from home is highly sought after by millennials. The ability to have a flexible schedule in itself can boost morale and increase job satisfaction. I have friends that have heavy family obligations and some that have other passions they wish to pursue, and a work-life balance is crucial to both. I currently work with my school’s recreation center, where I oversee the use of the equipment. Our direct supervisor allows us to come in at the beginning of the semester and request work hours based on our schedule and lifestyle, which in turn allows us to excel in school and other job opportunities.

Consequently, the potential for better work-life balance increases tremendously. Companies are beginning to grasp the element of increased morale and engagement after implementing a flexible schedule. Employees are immediately happier and more fulfilled, which in turn makes a more productive employee. An even balance between work-life can increase both employee and company value.

People of my generation are generally thought to have different styles and expectations for communication, which both influence team and organization performance. Unlike some of my colleagues, I enjoy a traditional style work-life where I can work in my own office and receive regular feedback rather than “fun” office perks, but with the opportunity to work with others when necessary. Areas that employers may have to refine their focus on as it relates to millennial employees are their family-friendliness, social impact, and different benefits that match employee values. Employers are beginning to find that they may have to adapt their policies and procedures to take advantage of the skills offered by millennials and avoid problems within the organization. As I continue to search for a career after graduation, I look forward to working with leaders and organizations that pay attention to and recognize their workers’ efforts that help to keep all employees engaged. This, in turn, provides employees the satisfaction of realizing the value they bring to the company.

The message to employers wanting to engage and retain this growing generation in the workforce is: invest in us, help us keep our skills current, and in return, we will stick with you and use our best ability to work harder and smarter for you.