Recognizing Millennial Achievements—and Potential

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Recognizing Millennial Achievements—and Potential
The 30 Under 30 Program Grows to 225 Awards

by Don Swift, Publisher and Editor

Five years ago, ionOklahoma organized the first NextGen 30-Under-30 program, honoring individuals 30 and under whose friends and colleagues nominate them for their contributions to their work life and their communities. Since then, we’ve congratulated 199 winners, primarily from the metropolitan area. This year, we were encouraged to grow the program because there are so many qualified nominations. As a result, it’s difficult for our independent judges to choose among the candidates.

For 2016, we’ve renamed the program NextGen Under 30 (visit, and we’re now accepting nominations in 15 categories, from The Arts and Education to Science, Technology and Engineering and Sports and Fitness. There will be 15 winners in each category, all recognized at the annual awards ceremony and dinner at the Cox Convention Center on November 18. More information is also on our Facebook page at Nominations are pouring in each day, so please nominate your favorite young achiever.

The Millennial Generation was born in in the early 80’s to the early 2000’s, comprising 14 percent of the work force. They face a world different from the one encountered by Baby Boomers or even Gen X-ers. They don’t expect, nor will they be offered, longevity in their job. It’s more difficult to make a good living than it was in the post-World War II years. Their motivation for working has less to do with loyalty to an employer than what they’re learning from the experience and what recognition they are receiving. It is a misconception that Millennials don’t understand workplace loyalty. In fact, recognition of their contribution converts directly to employee retention. Nevertheless, 91 percent of Millennials do not expect to be at the same job in three years.

Millennials (“twenty-somethings”) are starting to have a major impact in the workplace. By the year 2020, they could make up nearly half of the workplace, even with Baby Boomers delaying retirement.

In Oklahoma, we recognize that we need to keep Millennials in the state, working productively, encouraged and recognized for their contributions and achievements—and for what they will contribute and achieve in the years to come. In the 1980s, Oklahoma’s oil bust caused 100,000 young and talented (and, let’s face it, others, as well) to move out of state. Some have returned in recent years, but we cannot afford for this to happen again, even in these lean times.

With Millennials displaying turnover rates twice that of older workers, all organizations must be aware of the cost of this behavior. For an organization of 1,000 employees, the additional cost of replacing Millennials is more than $300,000 annually. This cost can grow to millions of dollars for larger organizations that don’t improve employee retention among younger workers.

The NextGen Under 30 program is designed to improve this situation through competition and recognition, shining a spotlight on high achieving individuals, an organization’s most-valuable resources.

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