Seeking Meaning

Martin Williams shows recruits what they’ll be doing—and why.
Seeking Meaning

While Traditionalists found meaning enough in a job well done, and Boomers and Xers believed that if they paid their dues, they could eventually ascend into meaningful roles, Millennials want to know they are going to make a difference from day one. Advertising agency Martin Williams has leapfrogged the competition when it comes to finding and keeping talent. The agency connects Millennials with meaning before they start a full-time job.

According to the 2009 Kelly Global Work Force Index, 51 percent of young workers surveyed said they were prepared to accept a lower wage or a lesser role if their work contributed to something “more important or meaningful.” The Millennials we interviewed for our M-Factor survey concurred, with nine out of 10 telling us that meaning wasn’t just important, it was the most important factor in their work lives.

The Minneapolis agency knew that its youngest job candidates wouldn’t settle for a slow start getting coffee and making copies, so it created a 16-week internship program called Velocity. Participants get exposure to all facets of Martin Williams’ work, and learn not only what they’d be doing in any particular job, but more importantly, why it matters. They can see how each department’s work is needed by people throughout the rest of the agency.

Steve Renier, associate director of human resources at Martin Williams, explains that “Millennials in the Velocity program have immersion days where they serve in specific roles ranging from account planning to media and creative. Through a combination of mentoring and hands-on work, they are taught not just where that particular role fits into the process, but why it is so important. Roles that might have originally been seen as grunt work or less sexy by Millennials take on new meaning as they understand how these functions make a difference for our company and clients.”

Liz Friedman was a Velocity intern and is now an account manager at Martin Williams. She says, “As my career has evolved at the company, I never question why I do what I do, or even better, whether or not I make an impact.”