From time to time I hear my mid-to-late career colleagues talk about the challenges of hiring and retaining millennials. It seems that there is some confusion about our expectations of them. Conversely, it seems they don’t know what to think about working for us. Millennials are accused of having outrageous expectations like higher-than-deserved pay, unreasonably flexible hours, attention-grabbing office spaces, and that they need to be entertained in order to keep their interest. Well, I suppose this is true for some millennials. In fact, I think this is true for some people who are much further advanced in their careers; but they just don’t want to admit it.
I find myself managing an office that is quite diverse. My immediate office is made up of community relations, economic development, and human resources staff (these divisions are all within the City Manager’s office), who are a group of early-career to late-career professionals. Sadly, I’m the old guy in the bunch now. Did I say old? I meant to say the “late-career” professional.
I have found the dynamics of my office to be an opportunity unlike no other, and I say that with enthusiasm, appreciation, and sincerity. My 20-somethings are talented, energetic, and bring a perspective that represents the interests of their peers. This is important to me because it allows me to stay in tune with the millennials of the community. They use Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram; and they order things from Amazon Prime (not to worry, they’re not doing all of this on work time). I am familiar with all of these technology “things”, and they scare me. Amazon Prime? Have they never heard of Nordstrom Rack? My mid-career folks are also tech-savvy and are very focused on their careers as it relates to supporting their lifestyles. They have mortgages, charge card bills, kids, and a whole host of other responsibilities.
Two of us are in the late-career mode. If I were to define the three segments I’ve talked about into a 30-year career span, it would be fair to say that two of us are in the final 10 years. We’re busy utilizing our experience to make sure the work of the City gets done while we check our 401k accounts twice a week to determine if we are getting anywhere near having enough money to actually retire. Oh, and doctor appointments are becoming just a little more frequent. And we spend some small part of the week observing and laughing at our millennials. It’s fair, they laugh at us, too.
But the ties that bind us all are the things that are most important. We love the Auburn Hills community, we are dedicated to our jobs, we understand and appreciate the role of being a public servant, and perhaps most importantly, we respect each other and our differences. We come to work each day with optimism and a goal of making the Auburn Hills of today just a little bit better than the Auburn Hills of yesterday. And we think about how we will take Auburn Hills just one step further tomorrow.
Tom Tanghe, City Manager