A few words on Company Culture and why it’s important for Millennials…
As of late, Company Culture has become a major buzz word in the Mortgage Industry, and hopefully around the office. There’s a good chance you think that you’ve exhausted the subject, but the truth is, the term is so rich with nutrients—the kind of nutrients that feed and stimulate your mind and propel your work ethic—there is surely more to unpack.
While there are case studies out there establishing both the “how” and “why” a Company’s Culture that cultivates a strong sense of Brand Equity is not only beneficial, but necessary for both a company and its constituents… I’m going to briefly discuss “why” it is good for Millennials… specifically, the Millennials whose hands you want to place at the control board when yours have retired.
Here are 3 key reasons why Company Culture is important when recruiting Millennials:
THE CORPORATE LADDER
1. Our generation’s “corporate ladder” has transformed (and perhaps even multiplied). It is quite possible that you folks are the last to experience what it is like to build a career in a vertical manner. While many of you are sporting degrees and certificates, there’s a large portion of you that have notches in your belt indicating your worth from your physical experience—the time and effort that you’ve invested in your career for decades. Half a century ago, becoming successful was directly correlated with how hard you worked. Sure, you may have bopped around in your teen years, bussing tables and filling gas tanks, but when you found something that you were good at, you stuck with it. You started at an entry level position, and every few years you were promoted until you leveled out at the highest rank you could achieve, and you worked your darned hardest at that same job 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, until you retired.
Nowadays, as college and post-graduate education has become more prominent, the work force has become increasingly more specialized—or at least, our expectations of what the work force should be like have become more specialized and segmented. In other words, you have thousands of graduates every year from undergraduate universities with multiple degrees in fields such as Italian and Communication Studies (as a matter of fact, those are my two degrees… it’s okay, you can chuckle). Sure, we have worked incredibly hard to achieve those BA’s, and our minds are better for it, but consequently, many Millennials believe that their careers have to reflect that specific education.
Additionally, due to these educational embellishments, competition for job openings has increased, which has delayed many Millennials’ opportunity to even land a position, let alone one that they are comfortable with. This slightly chaotic approach has inadvertently cultivated an air of frivolity which has enveloped the career pursuit in general, emitting illusions of “mobility” and “temporality”.
Because we young adults are accomplished and indebted (to our educational institutions, government, and/or parental figures), it leads us to believe that we have greater worth than young adults did 50 years ago. As a result, if we begin a job that we are unhappy with—perhaps it does not pay well, or we do not particularly care for our bosses or coworkers—we feel more confident throwing it away because of the illusion of excess—excess positions, options, etc. There is something better.
I like to think of the Italian word “assaggio” which stems from the verb “assaggiare” which means to taste, and the former, a taste. For many Millennials, the work force is like a flight of beers: un piccolo assaggio of about four different brews. We are so indecisive, so this is a great option because we are allowed to try out each one without committing. Sometimes, if we like one in particular, we’ll order a full glass after the flight. But more often than not, we’re perfectly content with those samples, and we’re off to the next bar.
Are you catching my drift? Establishing a prominent and appealing Company Culture is important when recruiting younger employees because it is what will keep us around after you have initially reeled us in. While we may be flighty, indecisive, and noncommittal—you should not underestimate us; we are incredibly perceptive, and we are searching for a certain wholesomeness and authenticity that will counteract the overstimulated society that we were born into.
If you recruit a Millennial and showcase the depth of your company’s mission, the promise of progress, the overwhelming sense of integrity and a solidified identity that saturates not only the infrastructure of the corporation itself, but the external interactions between the company and its clients… that young adult will feel more confident in sticking around.
Company Culture promotes longevity and confident commitment among already existing employees, and when new recruits visualize the status quo, the way the long-term employees not only function but prosper and advance in their environment, it sends the message that it is a dynamic and authentic workplace and there is room to grow and develop.
CAREER = IDENTITY
2. Career has become synonymous with Identity. To expand upon previously articulated sentiments, the connotation of one’s career has come to reflect one’s sense of self, at least in the U.S. Back in the day (and still, in other nations), work was its own entity. The work sphere and the personal sphere were kept separate, which allowed for individuals to compartmentalize their professional endeavors and their creative, personal endeavors. Today, however, these two circles have begun to merge, obfuscating the lines between employee and self. If “career” becomes synonymous with “identity”, and identity is tied not only to one’s manifested self, but to one’s ideal self—their goals and aspirations—it follows that a career choice would then parallel a person’s pursuit of happiness.
Consequently, in labor, we Millennials seek not only financial fulfillment, but personal fulfillment. It is obvious that while jobs are (seemingly) abundant, or at least, the variety of job sorts, many of these appealing and dynamic facades crumble within months of working at the company. Promises of creative freedom, variability, and engagement dissolve into a static, unchallenging day job. A Millennial’s worst enemy is monotony. You may think we are lazy, but the truth is, we crave challenge, because we are incredibly adaptable. The reason many companies let us down is because they lack a strong Company Culture. Most job openings are at start-ups that literally started up a week before. Thus, their infrastructure is shallow and underdeveloped, and they lack that seasoned modus operandi. Consequently, the level at which they function is one-dimensional, and prospects of tangible progress—not only for the company but for the employee themselves—seem slim, and nothing thwarts personal fulfillment like a sense of being stuck or suffocated.
Furthermore, as you may have noticed, Millennials run on “individuality” or at least, perceived individuality. Thus, we want our careers to reflect this strong sense of self, as if the job was literally made for us (if it actually wasn’t, entrepreneurs are a dime a dozen). Company’s with an unwavering culture and identity are more appealing to Millennials, because being employed at one instills within us a greater sense of conviction. If your company can showcase a cohesive, dynamic, and authentic history of operations, we will be more likely to lend you our ears.
THE HARD HITTERS
3. Your competitors are hard hitters. When I say “competitors” I don’t mean other mortgage companies… I mean other industries altogether. Here is the reality of the situation: it is very difficult to make your mortgage corporation seem appealing when other industries have their names in lights and offer endless perks (i.e. sleek office spaces, foosball tables in the breakroom, expensive brunches on the house), it is hard to convince a Millennial that working in the Mortgage Industry is actually worth their time. That being said, like beauty, the perks eventually fade, and all that is left is the mind (of the company and its constituents).
At the end of the day, while a flashy, edgy image is important in grabbing one’s attention, it is important to remember that this image is merely two-dimensional. The third dimension of a company is their culture—ay, there’s the rub!—and it is here in which the past, present, and future of a company lies.
Now, while many mortgage companies are likely consumed with creating the best possible present, it is important to keep in mind that not only should you cultivate a Company Culture that transcends all of the company’s and employees’ endeavors (from the top, down)—all the while emphasizing the importance of what you do—but you must curate an inspired team that can carry that company well into the future.
And what is it that this team does and will continue to do? Well, from my understanding as a third-party figure, not only do many top mortgage companies promote longevity and commitment within their infrastructure but they help their clients—real people—actualize these same ideals. Mortgage companies typically provide services that allow their clients to realize the dream of homeownership—committing to a place to live, perhaps committing to a family— and increasing the longevity of their livelihoods and wellbeing. Without prominent figures in the Mortgage Industry who perform their duties with conviction and above all, integrity, these individuals’ aspirations would be compromised. Instead, you actively work to purify notions of the Mortgage Industry, internally and externally, ultimately transforming homeownership from an elite and exclusive endeavor, to one that is accessible for everyone.
Now, what Millennial wouldn’t want to be a part of a dream team like that?
Published in National Mortgage Professional November 2017 Edition