Great Expectations, But Is What You See What You Get?

At Thomson Reuters, there’s lots of dating before there’s a proposal.
Great Expectations, But Is What You See What You Get?

Millennials are showing up on the job with high expectations for success. But they’re often disappointed over time as the job proves different than what they hoped it would be.

Here’s a sobering number and a good reason to implement a program like Thomson Reuters’ GROW trial employment period: When asked in our M-Factor survey about Millennials’ preparedness to enter the work force, only 7 percent of respondents from the other generations said that Millennials are “ready, willing, and able to succeed.”

On the flip side, Traditionalist, Boomer, and Xer bosses are frustrated when their expectations of how Millennials will perform on the job go unmet. From dress code to e-mail etiquette to work habits, employers are finding that Millennials’ skills sometimes miss the mark. The expectation gap between Millennials and the other generations can make Millennials’ entrance into the workplace feel like a bad first date for everyone.

The key to success is managing expectations on both sides. New York–based information and publishing giant Thomson Reuters gives all parties involved a relatively noncommittal trial period.

Rick King, chief technology officer for the company’s Professional division and based on the Eagan campus, says, “We found during the recruitment process that Millennials didn’t think they knew enough” to feel confident that they were making the right choice in coming to Thomson Reuters. “Rather than lose a great potential employee, we started a program that would help them learn about all the possibilities within the organization as well as allow our organization to learn more about them.”

The program, which was launched in 2005, is called Graduate Rotation Opportunities West, or GROW. It allows new hires to rotate through three different positions, working at each one for nine months before moving on. It’s essentially like having three jobs. If participants complete all three rotations and the entire 27 months, they are assured an offer of a full-time, longer-term job.

“More often than not, they get multiple offers,” King says. In a March 2009 survey, 89 percent of the program’s 21 participants so far said they felt it had given them a broader understanding of the business, and 83 percent said it had enhanced their skill set and technical knowledge. Best of all, retention of those who had gone through the GROW program since it began four years earlier was at 95 percent.