Many businesses across the country, including some in the Santa Clarita Valley, are changing the way they engage with a particular group of employees: Millennials.
That’s because the group, born after 1980 and before 2000, has been the largest generation in the labor force in the United States since 2016.
Just how large?
More than one in three, or 35 percent, of working Americans, are between the ages of 21 and 36, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of 2017 U.S. Census Bureau data. This placed the generation ahead of more than 53 million Generation Xers (born between the mid-1960s and the early-1980s), who represented a third of the workforce. Millennials also surpassed the 41 million Baby Boomers, or those between the ages of 53 and 71 in 2017, who accounted for 25 percent of the total.
By 2025, millennials are expected to dominate the workforce by a solid 75 percent, according to the report, “How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America,” by Governance Studies at Brookings.
While data reflecting millennials in the SCV labor force is not available, the generation is the largest category of residents, based on a recent report by the SCV Economic Development Corp. Data showed that 86,000 local residents are millennials, pulling ahead of the 78,000 Baby Boomers.
“We are expecting that millennial rate will increase in the next couple of years,” said Holly Schroeder, president and CEO of SCVEDC. “By 2020, our forecast shows that number will grow to 91,000 people; that’s a 36-percent growth, versus the state as a whole at just an 8-percent growth.
“Millennials are increasingly moving to communities like the Santa Clarita Valley because they are getting married and raising kids. The Santa Clarita Valley offers good schools, parks and employment.”
With the largest generation working all over the area, businesses are transforming the workspace, moving leadership toward a more networked approach, rather than a centralized, “command and control” style to engage a group known to appreciate a business with a humanized set of values highly.
Among those keeping up with this shift in the workplace is the College of the Canyons Economic Development Division, which offers tools and resources for anyone planning on growing a business. Employees here are provided the opportunity to “be innovative and creative” as the department emphasizes a more project-oriented environment and less of a time-oriented one.
“Millennials don’t want to spend time in meetings,” said Jeffrey Forrest, Economic Development Division vice president. “They want to take on something where they can be creative. They want to be in a position where they feel empowered. That’s what we do.”
He added that direct communication is critical in the department where 50 percent of its employees are millennials. With less time spent in traditional PowerPoint-led meetings, millennials are given straightforward directions and space to create directly, such as web building and other digital-based projects.
Feedback is just as valuable, said Forrest. “I am much more of a mentor and advisor to millennials than I am a colleague. Millennials ask me more about life and where we are moving forward. Millennials like to hear that they matter.”
Millennials expect to have these conversations more than older generations do, Forrest added. But with a growing number of millennials in the workplace, he welcomes the practice and is trying “to make that a part of all my team now.”
Though not a new concept, creating a work environment its employees look forward to attending is more crucial than ever, according to Valencia’s Rocky Mountain Recreation Co. A spokesperson with the business, which offers maintenance and management services to recreational areas, said it is challenging to find well-qualified individuals of the generation. When located, upper management aims to create a structural yet dynamic workspace to retain its younger employees. About 30 percent of the company’s employees are millennials. The age group with the company’s highest percentage of employees is 60 and above..
Training by experts who understand millennials is one way the company and many others have tried to perfect engagement.
Paul Butler, a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia, which offers leadership and time management training to local companies and others around the world, said companies are digging much more in-depth than training, however, to keep millennials engaged.
“Millennials like to connect with an organization that has a purpose and even supports a cause,” said Butler. “Most organizations have a mission statement that is very generic and broad. But now they are moving away from the vanilla mission statements and writing a very clear mission and vision.”
For example, he said, one of his company’s clients has found a creative way to share its values of respect, integrity and service by renaming generic statements with short sections titled, “Speak Out,” and “Own It.”
Simply put, companies are “humanizing these core values,” ultimately attracting high-quality talent, said Butler.
Perhaps at the lead of this transforming labor force locally is Scorpion, an internet marketing company with its headquarters in Valencia. Just on its website, the modern, slick design highlights its core values with a direct, two-word statement: Scorpion Cares, indicating it’s not just business.
“Our core value of giving back to the community is brought to life with our philanthropic arm, Scorpion Cares,” the website reads, listing some charities it supports, including Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital.
Showing employees matter falls under engagement, said Butler. And at Scorpion, it comes, in part, in the form of a 100,000-square-foot, custom-made headquarters. The design was executed “with its employees in mind, providing them with the amenities and resources they need to work efficiently and be as productive as possible,” Jeff Wirt, president of Wirt Design Group, the commercial interior design firm behind the creation of the building, said in October 2017 when the new headquarters first opened. The building offers everything from themed conference rooms to a basketball court and employee restaurant.
“The new building gives our employees a workplace that spurs their creativity while rewarding them for the hard work they do for our clients day in and day out,” said Scorpion CEO Rustin Kretz.
With a growing number of millennials moving into the SCV workforce, employers are encouraged to challenge engagement to fortify collaboration and build trust with the next generation of leaders.
“We can speak about generational differences, but in the end, we just want to work with people we can trust,” said Butler.