Maggie-Mae Laufman has heard all the negative descriptors of her generation – and that’s why she did her best to backpedal when Mariane Doyle singled her out of the crowd during a recent lunchtime seminar at the Persia Lounge.
“She asked me, ‘Are you a millennial?’ and I said, ‘No, I’m Gen Y!’” Laufman recalled with a smile.
Doyle’s response landed like a punch to the gut: “You know what Gen Y is? A millennial.”
“I screamed, ‘No!’” Laufman said.
While millennials routinely get a bum rap – for being too materialistic, too self-centered and too obsessed with social media, among other things – Doyle is convinced that this generation holds the key to future success for businesses, large and small – especially with market analysis projecting them to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2020.
And, to hear Doyle tell it, that’s good news.
“They are amazing, brilliant, talented young people who are busy trying to make the world a better place and enjoying life while they’re doing it,” said Doyle, director of career technical and adult education for the William S. Hart Union High School District.
Convinced that other business leaders and professionals would benefit from hearing Doyle’s presentation, titled “Generation (Wh)Y? Millennials in the Workplace,” Laufman worked with her colleagues in the SCV Business Marketing Group to plan a three-hour interactive seminar for Thursday, March 22, at TPC Valencia.
Tickets are $10 per person, including lunch, with space limited to 180 seats.
Rather than lament the generation’s perceived shortcomings, Doyle challenges business leaders to take a fresh look at millennials and their innate desire to serve the greater good. It’s why, she said, millennials are determined to stay out of debt, protect the environment and work for companies that stand for something more than simply turning a profit.
“What best describes them is that they’re so determined to make a positive impact on the world,” Doyle said.
A November 2017 analysis at the balance.com aligns with Doyle’s findings, concluding that millennials, or employees born between 1980-2000, are “desirable employees” capable of creating “the foundation for (a) superior workforce.”
The Balance report provided 11 tips for millennial management – ranging from development of a structured leadership plan to team building to taking advantage of the generation’s multi-tasking and networking abilities.
“Millennials are ready to take on the world. Their parents told them they can do it – and they can. Encourage – don’t squash them or contain them. They’re always looking to provide input and ideas. Encourage them to voice their thoughts and opinions,” The Balance wrote.
Businesses that don’t heed that advice will be in trouble, Doyle said, citing millennials’ unwillingness to stay at a job for the paycheck. They’ll look for other jobs, she said, seeking to fulfill their desire to serve a greater purpose.
“I’m worried for the businesses that don’t evolve with (millennials) or who aren’t nimble enough to adjust to them,” she said. “Their competitors will.”
She added, “How do you retain your human resources? That’s going to be an issue, because, for millennials, in their minds, there’s another job around the corner.”
The “Generation (Wh)Y” seminar is the latest in a string of events for the SCV Business Marketing Group, which has blossomed from a small networking circle of executives to an active faction that works to support local non-profit endeavors.
A charity wine tasting event last year to support Operation Gratitude, a Chatsworth-based non-profit that works to express appreciation for U.S. military and first responders, according to its mission statement, generated 450 nominations and “put our group on the map,” said Laufman, marketing director at Applied Resource Insurance Solutions.
The SCV Business Marketing Group, since its’ founding 2016, has also hosted events to support Soroptimist International of Greater Santa Clarita Valley, JCI Santa’s Helper’s Toy Drive and the Million Little Foundation.
The group plans to focus its efforts on two primary annual events, the charity wine tasting in the spring and the Thanksgiving-themed Give ‘N’ Gobble, while also organizing regular networking opportunities and seminars.
A journalist of 25 years, Steve Kiggins is editor of the Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal. Prior to joining The Signal in December 2017, Kiggins was based in Utah as an executive editor in the USA TODAY Network and worked more than a decade in media and education in Wyoming.
Follow him on Twitter, @scoopskiggy.