Adland Needs Millennials - But Don't Sweat It, They Need Adland Too

Does Adland really have a problem attracting young, talented people? Walk into an office and do you find it hard to locate a first or second jobber in there? It's certainly not my perception, and I very much doubt it's yours either.

However, there is hardly a trendier topic to discuss in senior management circles than millennials. The people who are just now starting to enter the workforce are young, keen and viewed as essential hires by all employers looking to build growth around youthful teams. The trouble is, the issues are clouded by HR "gurus" who are out there telling people how different this new generation is and how us old farts who can were brought up on vinyl and Swap Shop need to adapt. 

In other words, there are many people scaring middle-aged managers to believe that they will miss out on the latest and greatest talent if they don't wake up and smell the proverbial roses. By this, of course, a guru almost certainly means buying a book, attending a conference -- and ultimately, taking on board that sage's agency to scare you a little more, just in case the "you're too old to get this but you'll fail if you don't" message doesn't get through.

Now, relax and breathe in. I've done a great deal of research on this subject and I can honestly tell you there are, of course, generational differences. There always are. However, they're really positive. So forget worrying about it and remember this. Millennials are young and bright -- well, the ones you want to hire are -- and they love their tech, so don't hand out a brick of a phone. Let them choose. This will prompt large IT integrators to tell you that your company will fall apart unless you attend their seminar and buy their service -- but honestly, it won't.

Then the other big corporate issue is they want to advance and be trained. Not exactly the worst thing to be asked, is it? I remember the joke where a CFO asks 'What if we train people and they leave?' To which the CEO replies: 'What if we don't and they stay?'

As far as the office goes, the main things you'll need to attract millennials are a shower and a kitchen -- but, again, if you've got a bunch of middle-aged cyclists commuting into the office, this can only be a good thing all round.

The other point you might want to bear in mind is that you actually have quite a lot to offer. I was chatting to celebrity chef and restaurateur Marco Pierre White recently about this (sorry, terrible bit of name-dropping, I know) and he joked about how he was told to never ask what the hours were and what the wages were when going for his first job. Now, when he interviews a young man or woman the tables are turned and it's him that is constantly asked questions over conditions, hours, training and the overall package on offer. So never be afraid to say what you expect from a person and pick candidates accordingly. To listen to the gurus you should almost be sending out a groveling letter begging a young graduate to join you -- but just remember, you're writing the cheques and it's down to you to guide the transition from student to working life.

So none of this is the end of the world. All vibrant companies need workers of different ages to carry on being fun and productive, so the worst case scenario is you install a shower, get a decent coffee machine and then invest in your people with excellent training and offer a clear progression path for the brightest minds, regardless of age.

Gurus will always be there frightening you. It is the ultimate irony that we went from the Year 2000 crisis in IT to the millennial crisis in HR. So don't fall into the trap of thinking all first jobbers are the same -- everyone's a unique individual. As a generation there may be some slight differences, but none of these are a threat. In fact, they are quite the reverse -- and the worst that will happen is you end up with better-smelling cyclists, drinking nicer coffee in an office which is more productive and winning more clients because they've been helped to reach their full potential.

So, don't sweat it -- enjoy your latte. They have something to offer, but so do you. It's all good. Honest.

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