By Piet De Pauw, Head of Marketing at Enfocus
The printing industry workforce is aging. The mean age for printers is 47.9 years and most print shop workers are between 45 and 64 years old; per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Print is struggling to attract a younger employee pool. Whether it’s the historical reputation of print or an overall retirement to new hire ratio, this segment of the workforce is shrinking.
The effects of automation are certainly a factor. Printers can manufacture more print work with less people. This is due to a need to produce a greater mix of short runs and the need to meet shorter turn times. Automation is moving the print workforce toward the front office. Rather than let go of talented employees, staff can be moved other roles. For instance, as prepress functions are automated, those folks can transition into customer service or project manager roles.
When it comes down to it, the only way to replace a retiring population of print craftsmen is to bring in young people who are trainable. But, if automation is creating less of a need for craftsmen and more of a need for tech-savvy team members, who can print appeal to? Enter, the Millennials. The Millennial generation is the biggest in US history. 92 million people are aged 21 to 40 (2020). 44% communicate about brand discovery via text and 38% via social media. 34% of millennials will like a brand more that has a social media presence. A growing percentage of millennials are renting versus buying a home. And they are living with their parents until an older age than other generations have done.
What makes a job attractive to millennials?
First, millennial behavior can shed some light on the approach business managers should take. The millennial mindset is a way of thinking that builds being socially conscious into all aspects of life. Millennials pay attention to where businesses spend their money and how they contribute to society as well as what the company sells. They prefer to buy from companies that have values aligned with their own, and those are the companies they want to work for.
The millennial mindset doesn’t only encompass social concerns. It is a lifestyle that encompasses aspects ranging from what they eat to the technology they use. This generation grew up with daily announcements of new technology, and they expect tech to be part of anything they do.
Email, text messaging, and internet access have conditioned this generation to expect near-instant access to information. For a company to be attractive to millennials, they have to be current and using systems which take advantage of the latest technology.
HR departments can meet the expectations of millennials by:
Providing online training that presents the info you need to convey in an interactive format and tie it in with company values that millennials identify with.
Encouraging employees to share company info on their social channels, let them be your “brand ambassadors.”
Utilize systems and apps that employees can access on their mobile phones to deliver training, reference material, and HR resources. By incorporating these suggestions, businesses will start emphasizing the kind of tech that appeals to the millennial mindset and make themselves feel like a desirable place to work.
Millennials are naturally drawn to agile work and networking rather than hierarchies. For them, fulfillment is more important than outward success, and participating in a project is more important than managing it. Their ability to take new concepts onboard, their ease in handling information, and their assertive communication skills are most valuable in a digitally conscious environment.
What can print shops do?
Highlight the technology of print. Advertise roles by stressing the need for team-oriented people who are willing to approach old challenges in a new way. Print service providers need workflow architects and employees wanting to embrace change. They should say so when hanging up a help wanted sign. Shops need multitaskers and as automation rearranges where talent is focused, they also need communication-minded, tech-in-daily-life service staff. The path of print business is converging with a millennial mindset, or at least, it should be.
US Bureau of Labor Statistics: https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat18b.htm