Chambers of commerce recognize our future is dependent on attracting and incorporating millennials into our organizations. Their involvement is vital to keeping chambers viable and relevant. Based on research by Dr. Kenneth J. Lacho, Professor with the University of New Orleans — an engaged Chamber member himself — young professionals (YP) groups started casually as small groups who would get together to discuss issues and network. These groups later decided that forming organized bodies would be beneficial to their goals. Some YP groups affiliated with existing non-chamber organizations but in most cases, the chamber is where they found their home.
Is the millennials stereotype as entitled job hoppers who want a trophy for just showing up true, or are they professionals who have a different view and want to make an impact on this rapidly changing world? Those born 1980-2000 are classified as millennials and are drastically different from previous generations because they grew up in a culture of great technological advances. They have lived their lives with internet and cellphones so they only know a world with instant access to information and connectivity. As a result, they have a unique relationship with technology and how it connects them to the rest of the world.
With 92 million millennials in the US, they now make up the largest segment of the population. Generation X comes in at only 61 million and baby boomers rounding it out with 77 million. As more boomers retire and more millennials graduate college, we will see a dramatic shift in workforce population. By 2025 millennials will be the majority of the labor force.
Chambers that have YP groups tend to be larger and most have been in existence for an average of five years. This would lead to the conclusion that availability of chamber staff, funding, volunteers and young professional are key aspects to a successful YP group. Most YP groups in Dr. Lacho’s study focus on three initiatives: philanthropy, networking, and education.
Philanthropy is important to many millennials. Overall, they volunteer more often than their parents or grandparents did at their age, and are willing to donate their time and resources to causes that align with their values. The philanthropic aspect of millennials is something that should not be overlooked by both chambers and employers. According to the Millennial Impact Report, whether volunteering, working or donating, millennials research an organization first to insure their missions and values align.
While millennials are active and social online, they do utilize traditional networking opportunities. With many YP groups’ origins as informal get-togethers at coffee shops, it is evident that in our highly digital society, interpersonal interactions are still very important to networking and relationship building.
Evaluation and professional development are also encouraged in YP groups and they often host education classes and guest speakers that appeal to younger professionals.
Dr. Lacho encourages YPs and chambers to reach out to college students. Business schools also need to do their part to reach out to chambers, so together they can to develop programs that are meaningful for the students.
The topic of intergenerational work styles and career paths has been a hot one for several years. Working with millennials, merging boomers and millennial work styles have been session topics at professional development conferences across all professional sectors. We thank Dr. Lacho for sharing his white paper research with us, and blessing us to share it with our readers.
As Millennials continue to become the dominant force in the workplace, understanding their impact and goals will be crucial to organizations’ abilities to recruit and retain the best people. Millennials offer unique skills and work styles that add value to the workplace.