Personnel e.bulletin – April 2015

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Onboarding:  The Millennial Edition

Prepared for the PHCC Educational Foundation by TPO, Inc.

When you hire employees in their 20s and 30s, the next step — as with any other group of employees — is onboarding.

Onboarding happens in the few months after hiring and extends beyond first-day orientation. Effective onboarding can help your employees be productive sooner, and the more they understand your company’s culture, how to do their jobs, and what’s expected of them, the more likely they are to stay with the company.

There are generally four steps to onboarding: 1. Introduce your new hires to your company’s culture
2. Train them
3. Set expectations for your new hires and clarify them along the way
4. Evaluate your new hires’ progress and provide feedbackNow let’s see how these ideas can be applied to millennials.

The Millennial Generation

Millennials were born between 1979 and 1999. They are a growing part of the workforce. Today, millennials account for about 25 percent of the workforce, and by 2020, they will constitute 46 percent. They will need to be an increasing part of your company’s new hires in the future and will eventually start to take over leadership roles.

As if that’s not reason enough to focus on this group of employees, millennials bring many positive attributes to the workplace. This group has been identified as collaborative, resourceful, innovative, driven to learn, and excellent at communication.

Just like other generations, millennials have particular needs and wants in the workplace.  By recognizing what distinguishes these workers, you can better onboard them and improve your chances of retaining them.

How to Leverage the Characteristics of Millennials to Effectively Onboard Them
Introduce your new hires to your company’s culture.

Considerations: Millennials look for the following in a company’s culture: making the world a better place, collaboration, working with more of a coach than a boss, challenging work, a flexible schedule, work-life integration, a fun environment, and a sense of community.

Applications to Onboarding: Emphasize these aspects of your company in the onboarding process. For example, highlight that your company provides better products and services that are environmentally friendly and help save customers money; that employees learn via apprenticeship, so training is more collaborative; that employees can continue to learn about new technologies and techniques; that the work schedule can be flexible depending on customer needs; and that employees are encouraged to learn from and support each other in the course of work operations.

Train your new hires.
When training millennials, keep in mind that:

  • They have been surrounded by constant communication – whether in person, via text message, or through social media.
  • They appreciate structure.
  • They are used to having adult role models and adults’ help in navigating the world.
  • As mentioned above, they want bosses who will be their coaches and mentors.
  • They are committed to learning, want to learn quickly, and will ask a lot of questions.
  • They want to continue learning, even if their initial training has ended.

Applications to Onboarding:

  • Emphasize communication. Spell out the exact details of what the employees’ jobs entail and lay out the steps they need to take to be successful.
  • Don’t assume knowledge of job requirements; aspects of a position might not be as clear-cut to millennials as to workers of different generations because these younger employees grew up at a different time. A position at your company might very well be a millennial’s first job.
  • Apprenticeships will help millennials learn on the job and work with their supervisor as more of a mentor than a boss.  They will be able to ask questions and absorb the training more effectively in the environment where they will actually do their jobs.  Also, as mentioned above, millennials thrive in collaborative and team environments, and working with a mentor will play into that characteristic.
  • Keep open the lines of communication between millennials and their mentors even after an apprenticeship period has ended.  Also, tap into any training resources available to your company, for example, through PHCC.

Set expectations for your new hires and clarify them along the way.
Millennials need and want to know what’s expected of them, are goal-oriented, and want to have a voice in the terms of their jobs.

Applications to Onboarding: Transparency is crucial. Clearly set the boundaries: what you need from your team, what the rewards are for good performance, and what the consequences are for poor performance.

Make setting expectations a two-way street. Ask your new hires what their expectations are and be realistic, honest, and respectful in response.

Evaluate your new hires’ progress and provide feedback.
Millennials in general grew up with parents who sought their input and with a reward-based system, so they value feedback and praise.  They want to excel.

Applications to Onboarding:  Communication is crucial: Give millennials immediate and regular feedback on what they need to work on and what they’ve done well.  Recognition for a job well done will give them a sense of accomplishment and make them feel appreciated.

Also, inviting these employees to share their ideas during the assessment process will give them the sense that your company values their input.

Millennials are a crucial and growing part of the workforce.  With proper onboarding reinforced by a clear structure, collaboration, and communication to integrate them into your company’s culture and get them off on the right foot, these young workers can bring their creativity and drive to your company and thrive there.


This content was developed for the PHCC Educational Foundation by TPO, Inc. ( Please consult your HR professional or attorney for further advice, as laws may differ in each state. Laws continue to evolve; the information presented is as of March 2015. Any omission or inclusion of incorrect data is unintentional. Please note this article is not intended to provide legal advice or to substitute for supervisor employment law training.

The PHCC Educational Foundation, a partnership of contractors, manufacturers and wholesalers was founded in 1987 to serve the plumbing-heating-cooling industry by preparing contractors and their employees to meet the challenges of a constantly changing marketplace. If you found this article helpful, please consider supporting the Foundation by making a contribution at

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