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Posted by Jim Meads
According to the US Census, Millennials are people born between the years 1982 and 2000. In the US there are a reported 83.1 million millennials, roughly one quarter of the nation’s population. The public’s perception of this group of young people has not always been positive; however, Jim Meads, President and CEO of Sain Associates, believes that the future success of Sain relies on the retention and engagement of this group as they enter the workforce.
Sain Associates has developed a millennial engagement strategy that includes three main initiatives: a millennial advisory group, a technology investigation subgroup, and a series of rapid-fire project presentations known as “Pechakuchas.”
Millennial Advisory Group
One pillar of Sain’s millennial engagement strategy is the establishment of a millennial advisory group led by Jim and Infrastructure Project Manager, Alicia Bailey. The group is designed to foster a dialogue between millennial employees and upper management in order to learn about one another. They meet regularly and invite all millennial employees to attend. Jim and Alicia say that this is how Sain is attempting to approach the generation gap: by taking initiative to engage and learn about how millennials approach and solve problems. Jim says, “It has become a really productive conversation each time we sit down together,” and adds that by participating in the group, he has learned a lot about the communication styles of his millennial employees.
In addition to facilitating an internal dialogue with the millennial employees, Sain has brought in external experts to help weigh in on these topics. Karen Sladick, of Organize4Results, did a company-wide training on “Bridging the Generation Gap” which was a breakdown of how different generations (not just millennials) accomplish their work. “The workshop gave me an even greater appreciation for what each generation brings to the job – even my own!” says Alicia. Jim says that these types of company-wide trainings help promote an inclusive environment.
Within the Millennial Advisory Group, there is a subgroup of employees that are responsible for investigating potential future technologies for Sain Associates. They’re taking on the task of researching technological improvements that are up and coming in their industry and considering how Sain may implement such improvements. This is just one of the ways that Sain’s millennial employees are contributing to the growth and future of the company. “Engagement isn’t a one-way street,” says Alicia, “it’s an exchange of information.” The technology subgroup is an important part of how Sain is putting a focus on the future: “Technology is always changing,” Jim says, “and we don’t want to be stagnant.”
One of the activities that the Millennial Advisory Group actively participates in are scheduled rapid-fire project presenetations, or “Pechakuchas” (Learn more about Pechakuchas in our blog post “Where to Find a Pechakucha”). These presentations are given at Sain’s bi-monthly company breakfast, and to-date have all been led by millennial employees. Sain’s senior staff members have loved hearing the younger staff members talk about their work and what they have learned. These presentations are meant to be casual, and the millennial employees are utilizing this presentation style to express themselves in a really positive way. “The millennials have really taken to this presentation style.” Alicia says, “Some were nervous at first, but everyone has really enjoyed it.” Jim says that putting the millennial employees in front of the company in this type of environment really helps them see that they are important to the company.
“When I go to meetings with other presidents and CEOs in our industry, we’re constantly talking about Millennials,” says Jim. He wants to make the conversation a positive one, and that’s why Sain is taking such a serious stance on their millennial engagement efforts. “We want to focus on the positivity of all of these millennials entering the workforce,” says Alicia. “Sain is an excellent place for millennials to work.” Jim says, “We offer a flexible work environment that has an emphasis on work/life balance that we believe is very attractive to millennials.”