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The Me Generation

I got the chance to hang out with salon owners at quite a few holiday celebrations, and two topics that repeatedly came up in conversations were staffing and Millennials—an 80-million-strong group that Time magazine dubbed the “Me Me Me Generation.” Clearly businesses are spending a lot of time worrying about how to retain Millennials.

There’s good reason, according to Lisa Orrell, author of Millennials Incorporated (Intelligent Women Publishing, a division of Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, 2008), Millennials Into Leadership (2009), and a frequent contributor to industry guru Winn Claybaugh’s monthly Masters Audio Club program. The Employment Policy Foundation says the U.S. is facing a labor shortage of approximately 35 million skilled and educated workers, which is estimated to continue over the next two decades. Those kinds of stats have salon owners scrambling to figure out how to effectively retain top younger talent, because the current and future success of their salons depend on it. To give your salon an edge, Orrell suggests tapping into these strategies:

  1. Constant Contact: In a survey conducted by Yahoo!, HotJobs and Robert Half International, more than 60 percent of Millennials said they want to communicate with managers at least once a day. Older generations may find that cumbersome, but Millennials require it.
  2. Praise Culture: We all need praise from our employers, but Millennials tend to need it more often than the generations before them. If this group isn’t feeling valued on a regular basis, they’ll seek employment elsewhere. With that in mind, take a page from many well-known companies that are shifting to a praise culture to retain staff.
  3. Rapid Advancement Alternatives: You don’t always have to give Millennials a raise or promotion to keep them happy; being creative with increased responsibility can work equally well. Millennials have fast minds and get bored quickly, so your job as an employer is to help eliminate the boredom factor. Find ways to give them more responsibility, which could include allowing them to establish or write for your salon’s blog, participating in your salon’s Facebook page or creating an e-newsletter.
  4. Mentor Programs: Millennials have grown up with a lot of guidance from their parents, society and teachers. They value and seek hand-holding at work so much that many have quit jobs quickly because they were promised, but never received, mentorship.
  5. Leadership Mindset: The sooner you educate Millennial team members about the attributes of being a respected leader, the sooner they’ll start acting like one. Emphasizing that everything they say and do either strengthens or weakens their personal brand will provide them with a new perspective that potentially improves behavior that may be frustrating you.

Finally, Orrell says Millennials’ wants and needs aren’t much different from those of older generations; they just have a lower tolerance threshold than generations before them. “Boomers may put up with a job for five years even if they are bored or feel undervalued, but a Millennial may only tolerate it for five months,” she says. Drop me a line and let me know what your salon’s leadership team is doing to ensure you don’t lose your top Millennial talent to the competition. ✂ —Kelley Donahue, editor in chief, kdonahue@questex.com

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About the Author

Kelley Donahue

As Editor in Chief of American Salon, Kelley Donahue reports on all aspects of the professional beauty industry, including salon business-building strategies, seasonal hair and fashion trends, salon services and techniques, and timely issues impacting manufacturers, schools, salons and distributor principals. In addition to conducting photo shoots--one of which was the recipient of an ABBIES Award for Best Magazine Cover--Donahue also travels extensively throughout the U.S. and abroad, sourcing out new trends and representing American Salon at major industry functions and educational events.