NJ Employers Literally “Can’t Even” Right Now With Their Millennial Workers
Call them Generation Unemployable.
Lots of employers across the Garden State are reporting difficult issues when hiring and retaining workers who are in their 20s and 30s.
“The labor force is lacking employability skills, and those employability skills include the opportunity to properly communicate, the mere fact of showing up on time, being able to self-direct, be self-motivated,” said Michele Siekerka, president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.
“It appears we have a generation of workers who, because their young lives were so structured by others, they have a difficult time self-directing, and employers are finding the lack of these skills to be very challenging.”
John O’Connor, owner of the Shade Tree Garage in Morristown agrees.
“Some younger employees struggle with very basic kinds of issues," he said. “They seem to have trouble getting in on time, and when asked why, the answer is I didn’t get a good night’s sleep. I’m thinking to myself, you don’t have kids, what are you going to do when you’re a parent? You never get a good night’s sleep.”
He said he’s also had situations where someone failed to show up for work after being hired, and then resigned via text message.
“That seems to be an easy way out,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s generational, but there doesn’t seem to be the same work ethic, I have a very senior staff right now and all of them get in on time.”
Siekerka stressed the most important thing for most companies is good customer service.
“You want a workforce who is not just be productive, but always showing up on time, having good communications skills,” she said. “Face to face communication today is a challenge because so much is driven by technology. The incoming workforce grew up in a technology world where it’s easier for them to text and tweet than it is for them to have a face to face conversation, so many businesses have to provide incoming training for these folks.”
Another problem seems to be recreational drug use.
George Lange, owner of Parkertown Car Care in Tuckerton, said he has hired some younger workers but “I would say 75 percent of them eventually left because of drugs. I catch 'em and I get rid of 'em.”
He said there's a lot of hand-holding with younger workers.
"Some would come in late so I’d send them home. I said I need you here on time because I’m counting on you doing the work, but that didn’t happen."