To start, it seems like every trade journal, conference and training event has some discussion around Millennial workers. There’s talk about how millennials feel entitled to whatever they want without having to earn it and work for it. The truncated messages using acronyms like “YOLO” or “IDK” seem like a cheat to the English language. The expectation to multi-task challenges employers to accept that the workers are taking phone calls, programming systems, or completing other tasks while also snapchatting and texting. The automotive industry has taken a leadership role by leveraging the creative mindset and technological savvy of the millennial worker. All in all, technology and evolution have brought us to an age where the up and coming generation is rewriting the rules on how to get ahead in a career. In the tech world, the key is to embrace this identify of new workers and find ways to compromise rigid policies to accommodate what some might say are “unreasonable” expectations. I am proud to say that Autodesk and the automotive industry has entrusted millennial workers, allowing the industry to evolve and innovate at a rapid pace.
Encouraging millennials is different than what many of us experienced from our mentors and leaders when we were first getting established. Millennials aren’t looking for just high-salary jobs to keep them motivated. They have a purpose and want to be fulfilled by making a difference and improving the world around them. I have often heard how millennials feel unfairly compensated and underappreciated because while they are able to get the “same job” completed in less time with better results, their senior counterparts are often earning a significantly higher salary. Experience has value, there is no doubt in that, but how else can we demonstrate the appreciation for the efficient, creative and tech-savvy millennial worker? It is through flexibility, either in hours worked or work-from-home arrangements. The mobilization of the job through smart phones and tablets has developed unprecedented flexibility to handle work tasks without having to be physically on premise. Similarly, allowing millennials extra time off to do charity work, or a company-sponsored 5K run, or complementary snacks in the office are ways that millennials feel appreciated and are more apt to put in the effort.
The automotive industry is one where outside of design review meetings, much of the work can be performed from anywhere. The creative nature of this work warrants a non-traditional setting. Not to mention that inspiration hits in its own time, not just on demand. By allowing millennials to work flexibly, they are more apt to put in the work when their creative flow hits, whether it’s at 4AM or 11PM, and produce optimal results.
Empowering millennials is probably the best way to demonstrate respect for their talents and efforts. Allowing them to make decisions independently, to provide the resources and tools needed to enhance their career and increase their value. Asking them questions on how they would do something rather than telling them what to do. Trusting them to do what is right because you’ve communicated the expectations clearly. One of the things we do at Autodesk is provide free versions of our software to students. The more they can tinker, design, manipulate their ideas, the sooner their ideas can benefit the organizations they work for.
Not to say that every design a millennial creates will be worthy of praise and advancement into production, however, allowing them to understand the entire design process, how each concept feeds the next, how each model year is enhanced and modernized, and why development occurs at the pace it does, will give them more knowledge to apply to their job. By knowing more about what is expected of them and how to make the greatest impact, millennials are more likely to stay committed to their jobs and invest in their own development.
Embracing the millennial workforce may feel awkward or uncomfortable, particular to GenXers. Why? Those who grew up with the harsh lessons that have been passed down generation to generation are expecting to bring up the next generation the same way. “It took me 15 years to get a job where I could keep my shirt clean,” or “I had to take orders and not ask questions for so long before I was able to make any decisions,” are examples of this thinking. I don’t blame anyone for instinctively feeling this way, as it makes sense. We can often look back to the lessons we learned and expect that the next generation will have to learn the same lessons the same way. But what if they didn’t? What if we could help them to make positive choices and shorten the learning curve so they can become an asset sooner? What if having an optimistic, opportunistic outlook would allow them to generate new ideas to cure cancer? What if by giving them some of what they ask for we are able to establish trust?
What does this mean to the automotive industry? The Millennial worker is definitely changing the rules of the game. In order to be progressive, forward-thinking and future-ready, embracing the millennial through encouragement and empowerment will yield results in the years to come. Autodesk provides educational institutions and students free downloads of Alias and VRED software, so they can hit the ground running the moment they enter the automotive workforce.