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Attracting and Retaining Millennial Chemists

MillennialsatChemDesignThis year, the Millennial generation (born 1980 – 2000) will surpass the Boomers in size. The oldest of the Millennials working in chemistry are 35 and the youngest are just entering high school.

This cohort holds great potential. Historians and researchers have discovered that generational ideals cycle about every 20 years, taking about 80 to come full circle. The Greatest Generation (1901-1924) was considered a civic generation. To this day, most presidents and leaders have come from generations with civic principles. The Millennial generation could be the next civic generation and harvest more leaders than Gen X, Boomers, and the Silent generations combined!

Employers facing talent shortages need Millennials to work not only in leadership, but in all facets of their organizations. At ChemDesign, we work in an industry that is growing every year. We hire Millennials for every discipline, including custom chemical production, research and engineering. We recognize they are entering the growth phase of their careers. In order to attract and retain them, we provide a path to create a future with us.

ChemDesign believes Millennials are great for business, especially when the culture depends on an entrepreneurial mindset from its employees to thrive. We actively hire and retain Millennial employees because they:

  • Recommend changes beyond standard in our industry
  • Value authenticity and transparency
  • Want to impact the way chemicals are manufactured
  • Lead with influence, rather than power
  • Work hard to make a difference for others

Our Millennial workforce say they like working here because of our people, atmosphere and secure employment. They appreciate our flexible, open and approachable business style. They also like that we show the impact they are making in the organization. They leave each day knowing how their role impacts the quality of our product. We talk about where the chemistries will be used and why we were selected to make them.

Our Millennial employees get involved in the community. They volunteer for STEM research events and are part of a regional Healthy Youth Coalition in the Marinette and Menominee area. They show children and parents basic science experiments at the annual Family Recreation Day. They lead our company sponsored social outings and give to the United Way. For them, choosing a community to create a life is just as important as making a living.

We’ve heard from other companies who hire interns that the greatest challenge is to keep them from being bored. Our perspective is that if they are coming to you and saying they are, it’s too late. At ChemDesign, we include them in meetings, give them challenges, and hold them accountable.

This close involvement with the organization works especially well in our college intern program. This summer, we have an intern working on overseeing the design and installation of a new filtration system. Another is working with our maintenance group on enhancing our mechanical integrity program.  At top engineering schools like Michigan Technological University, we have earned a reputation among faculty and students as being a company who makes a commitment to providing the best internship experience possible.

We are always learning as an organization. Some approaches have worked well with Millennials and others have needed refinement. We listen to what others are doing (the newest topic is relaxation techniques at work). Then we bring it back to our community to see if it passes their litmus test. Our approach is not rocket science, but it seems to work well in chemistry.

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