By Abigail Hanson
The millennials are the largest generation since the baby boomers. The generation is comprised of those born between 1982 and 2000, according to the United States Census Bureau. And how does this fit into the automotive aftermarket? The Young Auto Care Network Group (YANG) was founded to form connections between young professionals (under the age of 40) in the auto care industry. It allows its members to network, learn and assist in decision-making, as well as gain credibility and a more complete understanding of the industry. I recently asked YANG members about millennials and their role in the automotive aftermarket. Three council members had a lot of great insight into the generation and our influence on the workforce.
“Millennials are generally connected, diverse collaborators, shaped by 9/11, texting and the recession,” says Lisa N. Rodriguez, marketing services specialist-North America at TRW Automotive and YANG council member. Many businesses are afraid to trust millennials, but there is no denying that we are the future of the workforce. In response to this, Michael Rukov, product and marketing manager at One Stop Parts Source and YANG chairman, asked, “How can you ignore the biggest generation that was ever born that will be representing 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025?” Misconceptions seem to be the reason for this distrust. Rukov said these misconceptions include a supposed lack of loyalty (we are “job jumpers”) and the idea that millennials are only in it for the money. Rodriguez said that in terms of products, millennials can be “brand-loyal, but we’re highly aware of the competition, therefore companies must always innovate and be ahead of the curve in order to keep our business.”
The same goes for our careers. From childhood, millennials’ lives have been constantly changing — from corded phones to smart phones, and desktop to laptop computers. Businesses should learn to trust us, and keep our attention with constant innovation and work we find meaningful. Then, we’ll be loyal. In regard to our generation being “driven by money,” research says that this is not the case. A study by Alexandra Levit and Dr. Sanja Licina from the Career Advisory Board at Devry University, presented the differences in valued job factors between millennials and their managers. The study showed 30 percent of millennials said that “meaningful work” is important, while 12 percent of managers said so. Twenty-five percent of millennials valued a “sense of accomplishment” and 12 percent of managers did. Not surprisingly then, while 50 percent of managers saw “high pay” as important, only 28 percent of millennials did. How do you increase meaning and accomplishment in the workplace?
As an employer of millennials, you must be willing to give us “creative freedom and flexibility,” said Rodriguez. John C. Washbish, account executive at NGK Spark Plugs (U.S.A.) Inc. and a YANG council member, added, “Millennials want to be at the top now. This energy and desire to lead can be managed and geared to positive competition in the workplace, strong team building and a sense of corporate identity.” All of these qualities can be used to create a positive future for the auto care industry. Rodriguez said that one of the most notable ways in which millennials can build the industry is through our “widespread social circles.” She said that millennials do not see demographics as a barrier, but as an endless networking possibility.
This allows millennials “to contribute and soon lead the recent and future globalization of the auto care industry.” Rukov said that, in one word, millennials can offer passion to the auto care industry. He said, “If we get behind something and fall in love with it, we can move mountains.” If that something is the auto care industry, as it is for Rukov, then millennials can bring a lot to the industry. In pre-existing auto care businesses, we can increase productivity and revenue with their technological abilities, jumpstart team building and contribute to the globalization of the industry. We believe that we have a lot to bring to these businesses, and research backs this belief. As Washbish said, “Millennials are now raising their voices, to be heard and to instill trust and confidence in the older generations.” Hear us out.
Abigail Hanson interned with Babcox Media this summer and attends Ohio Wesleyan University. Hanson interned through Summer on the Cuyahoga (SOTC), a unique summer internship program for current students or recent graduates of Case Western Reserve, Colgate University, Cornell University, Denison University, Ohio Wesleyan University, Smith College, University of Chicago and Yale University. The program is an intensive summer immersion program designed to help interns explore the professional, civic and social offerings of the Cleveland area.