"The first is engaging and motivating millennials," says Thomas. While businesses are struggling to recruit and retain millennial employees, colleges are constantly learning how to better serve the needs of this generation and generation Z.
Thomas explains that there are three things that colleges understand about millennials that businesses should clue in on.
First, millennials are looking for a purpose. "If you look at college campuses, it's very clear that young people, like generations before them, come to college wanting it to lead to a successful career stream — but they are also looking for purpose."
"They also have a desire to be what I call 'self-authoring," says Thomas. "Meaning, they want to define who they are and what their identity is away from any category."
Finally, he says that colleges understand how to mentor and develop millennial talent. "We have learned in higher education is that this a group for whom mentoring and role modeling is key to motivating them," he explains. "The old top-down orientation which is characterized as a management practice is not going to be as successful in motivating and retaining millennials."
According to job-site Monster, giant companies like GE, Deloitte and Boeing have made a commitment to mentorship initiatives because they increase employee retention and productivity.
Boeing for instance, pairs all business engineering, HR and IT employees with a mentor at the senior manager or executive level.