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September 30, 2012 10:05 PM

Millennials Revolutionize The Workplace

Sioux Falls, SD

Are they spoiled brats or will they revolutionize the workplace?  We're talking about Millennials or Generation Y, people born after 1980, which will make up 40 percent of the workforce by 2020.

Toss out the business suit and the old job rules that go along with it, millennials are a different breed of worker and are challenging employers to change with these high-tech times.

One look around Esurance's call center, which employs nearly 700 people in the Sioux Falls area, and you'll see a good mix of ages. But there's one group that Esurance especially attracts, Millennials. 

"As Baby Boomers retire, this is the work force. So you have to look at not only the workforce and changing with it. It's like consumer models; you have to be able to change with the tide of what's in the marketplace today. You have to find ways to entice those individuals to come work for you and find ways to keep them happy and productive and wanting to stay and retain in your business," Jeff Taylor of Esurance said.

Companies like Esurance, who figure out how to do that, will be ahead of the game. 

So what makes a Millennial worker different than Generation X or Baby Boomers? 

"Work is definitely supposed to be fun," Kasie Smith said.

"A relaxed atmosphere definitely helps," Wade Williams said.

"As weird as it sounds, the clothing you wear can really help your attitudes at work," Derek Morgan said.

"Even though they're a very technology-driven generation, they don't want an email feedback. They want that personal coaching or mentoring," Career Coach Erin Cambier said.

"With information being so readily available nowadays; it's one of those things where you can't just look it up how you're doing as an employee. You can't just point and click; this is how I'm doing.  So that verbal to verbal feedback with manager or supervisors is very valuable.  Especially since the world we're in now is all about information," Morgan said.

Not only is plenty of feedback important to the millennial worker, but so is the ability to move up and move up quickly.    Esurance has found a way for its younger workers to do just that. 

Wade Williams has only been on the job for three years, but has already been promoted several times.

"I was able to get licensed through Esurance; moved into another role, taking escalated calls, answering questions then I was promoted to a team leader to where basically it's the supervisor's right-hand-man," Williams said. 

"It doesn't always have to be a new title that Millennials are looking for; but they want things that are new and more challenging; new projects; special initiatives; maybe that's a new title-may that's with or without more pay.  But most times a new challenge will help," Cambier said.

Being able to find work/life balance and get additional perks are also priorities with Gen Y-ers. 

"The flexibility is very important to me.  Being able to come to work and do my job is very important, but also having that work/family balance is something my generation really values; maybe even more having the time off than the money," Smith said.

New mom, 27-year-old Kasie Smith, was able to complete her bachelor's degree and is about to get her master's; all while working full-time for Esurance, thanks to the company's tuition-reimbursement program.  The company says it's not just about pleasing Millennials on the job, but all workers. 

"We would make those accommodations for anybody.  That has been the big shift in this marketplace of call centers; to really kind of follow those trends and cater to those trends.  And everybody who is here ultimately benefits from those things," Taylor said.

But does all this instant feedback, quick promotions, and more perks and balance lead to less productivity among workers?  That doesn't appear to be the case here and the company seems to be winning something that's tough to get among this generation; loyalty. 

"I don't have any plans to go anywhere anytime soon, especially since we're growing so much with Allstate; there's only going to be room to go up down the road.  I'm excited where I'm at," Morgan sad.

"Companies are creating a lot more employment branding because Millennials are keeping their eye open for good opportunities, so companies that have a good brand out there are going to be the companies Millenials keep in mind when they're ready for that new opportunity," Cambier said.

An opportunity that companies today can't afford to miss.  Esurance just announced it's hiring an additional 60 workers in Sioux Falls and expects many of them to be Millennials.

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