Say Hello To The Millennial Funeral Director

They want $100K and a 10-hour work week

They need to jump up the ladder, not climb it. 

And heaven forbid you don’t let them work from home 7 days a week

Who are we talking about? Millennials.

A panel of experts discussing the topic of millennials in the funeral industry at the National Funeral Director Association (NFDA) Conference, answered those age-old questions: “Are millennials fit for funeral service? and  “What do millennials want?” 

An intro to millennials

Millenials are very different from the Boomer generation that is the majority in funeral service… this is no secret. And, it’s good to understand them, since they will be our future employees, and later on… the future of our profession. 

Let’s dive into a few key characteristics of millennials:

  • Highly creative: growing up with parents who demanded participation trophies for everyone, many millennials developed a strong desire to excel and stand out. They approach problems with out-of-the box thinking that could lead to some innovative strategies for your funeral home.
  • Outspoken: Millennials are used to having a seat at the table, so be prepared to listen when your new hire has a list of ideas. They are serious about helping grow the business and want you to be as well.
  • Driven overachievers: Some millennials are accustomed to having guidelines and rubrics to adhere to, so to enter a role that feels more like punching in and punching out can be unfulfilling if it’s been slow business for a bit. Be prepared to set up expectations for your employee, and don’t be surprised when they go all out and above and beyond.
  • Self-starters: Millennials often thrive when left to work independently. In school, many have been taught how to think critically both on teams and individually, so to garner your respect they will seek out projects and if given the OK, enact serious change. 
  • Digital gurus: Since so many millennials, especially younger ones, grew up using the technology that dominates today, they can be instrumental in developing a social media presence, building your website, and making some online marketing magic happen.

The verdict? Millennials are not just a force to be reckoned with, but a hugely valuable asset to your funeral home. Millennials could, in fact, be the bridge that funeral service needs in these transitional times. So how can you attract them to your funeral home’s team? Keep reading below to find out!

Millennial expectations

Since so many are entering the workforce with student debt, being able to afford to live while having enough to pay back that debt is the number one priority for polled millennials when deciding on a new job. So how can you attract this powerful generation into your funeral home? Here are the top deciding factors for job-seeking millennials:

  • Healthcare: 48% of polled millennials see healthcare as a top priority. It may have been higher if some younger ones were unable to remain on their parents’ insurance plans.
  • Make a difference: Millennials prioritize their communities and the environment heavily, so finding a job where they can make a positive impact is crucial.
  • Work culture: If your workplace is not inclusive or is hostile to change, do not expect any millennial to come knocking. They want somewhere they feel they belong and expect their employer to invest as much into them as they do into their job. For some, this means education opportunities and for others it means work-life balance.

The verdict: If 43% of millennials said they would consider leaving their jobs within two years, you might assume that it is because they are lazy and don’t want to work. But in reality, the reasons they provided (dissatisfied with pay, lack of challenge, incompatible with the work culture, feeling underappreciated) reflect a disconnect with the employer. 

How to work with Millennials 

By and large, millennials are looking for a coach, not a boss, so when you interview your prospective employee, they are going to interview you back. They understand that they may have options and will want to see if you are the best one. If it turns out you are a great match for one another, keep in mind a few tips to make the most of your new employee:

  • Treat them as valued employees: Create a culture of mutual respect and offer opportunities for growth and advancement.
  • Invest in their development: Millennials expect solid feedback on their performance as well as education to build their skillset.
  • Offer work/life balance: Try giving them time off during slow periods. Or a non-traditional work week (eg. 11-on, 4-off) to match the lulls in business.
  • Establish expectations early: Millennials will want to always meet or exceed them, so make guidelines clear from the beginning.
  • Get to know them: Nothing works better than getting to know your co-workers and employees as individuals. 

The verdict: Millennials want to be treated as individuals, and they are not okay with stagnation of any sort. So, the “way we’ve always done it” attitude will certainly not work for them. 

Are millennials ideal funeral directors and funeral home owners? 

With all this time off and expected investment in them, where do you get to see the return for hiring millennials? The question was asked to Lelli McMurrough at the National Funeral Directors’ Association conference: “Are they really owner material?”.

The verdict: The truth is, many millennials are hard-working, determined and innovative workers who will carry this profession once the older generation is gone. Not every individual is “owner material”, but if you invest in your millennial employees and help them grow professionally, we’re positive millenials have the potential to rise to and even surpass your expectations.

What do you think about the millennial generation and funeral service? Tell us your opinions below!