Does planning your retirement, managing staff turnover, and attracting new “millennial” talent to your scales business keep you up at night?
OK, maybe they don’t keep you up all night, but it’s difficult to imagine that as a company owner or senior manager, you are not concerned that so much of your business processes and customer relationships are tied to a few key employees – that could retire, or leave at any time. What can make matters even more difficult is that businesses such as the scales industry, at first glance, may not look attractive to millennials. The reality is that no industry is immune to the effects of baby boomers retiring. Look around your office. How many employees are over 50? Will you celebrate the retirement of your long trusted technician, or do you dread the day he comes in and announces he’s going to start playing A LOT more golf? It may be that the issue of attracting new talent and managing your business in the future without those longstanding employees has the same solution: technology.
Millennials are generally described as those that were born after 1980 -basically between 20 and 35 today. In all likelihood, if you are planning a new hire, they will be right in that age range. While we often describe this group as very different from “our generation,” they do have some great traits that are highly sought after and could also make them excellent scales industry employees. One such trait is an ability to adapt to new technology almost instantly. While we often lament that they spend a lot of time attached to their tablets or smartphones, the reality is that millennials can learn new applications far faster than older employees. They are on a constant search for a better, easier way to perform a task. While most of us are just getting comfortable with Facebook, they’ve moved on to Snapchat, and Instagram. Consider that these applications are similar in nature to business workflows; millennials hear about them, study and implement them as needed. If they don’t know how to do something, they will research it on social media platforms like YouTube and learn them right away.
As an example of this, I had my iPhone 6 for four months and my 15 year old son looked at it and said, “why haven’t you enabled fingerprint technology yet Dad?” He took and set me up in three minutes. He doesn’t even own an iPhone, but he figured out how to do it in seconds. That’s just how they are wired. Now, doesn’t that sound like someone that would make a good technician?
Millennials are also very team oriented. They collaborate on tasks and use others to help them solve problems. After years of “helicopter parenting” and forcing them into team sports, as well as in school, where group activities and presentations are constantly promoted, they seek out that level of engagement -and career. As children of baby boomers, millennials also strive to achieve goals and require constant feedback as to how well they perform in relation to other employees. Again, these are great attributes for future scales industry technicians.
INTEGRATING MILLENNIALS INTO YOUR BUSINESS.
One trait that many scale businesses have that will be a showstopper when trying to attract new talent is older paper-based workflows and redundant systems. If you send out technicians with smartphones yet ask them to have customers sign paperwork and purchase orders, and then have them drive back to the office to submit it, millennials will think that’s “a hat on a hat” (that’s how they’d say something is redundant). In the same way, not being able to access specific customer information such as device models, details from their last visit, or customer contact information on their smartphone would not be acceptable. They have an expectation that everything is connected, so a system that is not accessible online just would not be worth the effort.
The good news in all of this is that what the millennials look for is also a huge benefit to your business. If you are planning to sell your business, any potential buyer will want to make sure that your internal systems are well documented and not reliant on the heroics of any one employee. If you need to train a new employee then having all the important details, and processes in one central place will shorten the learning curve. They will want to see technology being used to replace manual processes wherever possible. Buyers will also want to ensure that the knowledge base of the company is maintained and improved upon.
So, if a major concern of your business is succession planning and attracting new talent, then it’s important to start thinking about why that new talent will want to work in your business. It will be difficult to attract a millennial when the businesses processes are set up for 45-60 year old employees. We often get bogged down and define our business as highly manual and physical one that may not be attractive or part of the “new economy.” Untrue! Amazon doesn’t define itself as selling books. Do you think of eBay as a giant garage sale? These are age old businesses wrapped in technology. Your business needs to be positioned the same way to attract talent to replace your existing, aging employees.