I read an article recently with the headline,
“Millennials, Also Known as Generation Y, Are Entering the Workforce Like a Flashflood.”
Flashflood? That might not be the best metaphor. Flashfloods often stop as quickly as they start. Millennials (1980-2001), are now the largest generation in the workforce. And unlike a flashflood, their flow into the marketplace has no signs of letting up over the next few years. And this is a good thing, because we need them!
Millennials bring with them a mindset that is a great fit for the world we are encountering. They have an entirely new way of interacting and doing business. They are also aware of what the current needs are and will be. Their upbringing allows them to bring a fresh perspective to organizations which makes them strategically valuable.
On the flipside, they are also in need of training. This makes the experience of those who are seasoned workers equally valuable.
And, yes, it is true that Millennials are also vocal about their expectations, and employers are taking notice. Traditional compensation and benefit packages are not going away. Yet these must be complimented with some unique workplace attributes and organizational culture.
Here are 6 ways to proactively address these generational issues in the workplace.
- Don’t confuse “work” with a location. For Millennials, work is a state of mind, not a place to be. Often times our work has a specific location, but location is not synonymous with work. Work can be done all over the map and in different time zones. Focusing on the product and not just the process will also allow for some flexibility in work schedules.
- Provide leadership and feedback. Contrary to the opinion of some, Millennials want to learn. They love role models. Yet this won’t happen if there is not a good relationship making this possible. When feedback is provided, it should be based on performance and not for just showing up. When a clear career track based on performance is established, the performance review process helps them understand how they are doing and keeps them moving forward in the organization.
- Give them the big picture. Connect the younger generation to the future of your organization. Don’t assume they see it. They don’t need more content as much as they do context – not information as much as they do interpretation. This also helps them see how their contributions relate to the organization, the customer, and society at large. This creates engagement and answers the question “why” they are doing “what” you asked them to do. And sometimes that’s all that’s needed.
- Invest in their development. This makes them feel challenged and appreciated. They want to learn and like to participate in projects that allow valuable hands-on experience. They are quicker than any other previous generation to invest their own money in personal development. So why not tap into this tendency in your own organization. A manager asked me, “What if you develop them and they leave?” I responded with, “What if you don’t develop them and they stay?” And if you invest in them, they are less likely to leave. They are willing to bet on themselves. So why shouldn’t we?
- Don’t confuse leadership with titles, positions, or flow charts. Boomers are more motivated by rank, wealth, and prestige than this emerging generation. They are looking for authenticity. And celebrity is the enemy of authenticity. To this generation de-elevating positional authority is not a sign of disrespect. Instead, informality is a sign of respect. There is nothing wrong with positions – unless it becomes a place to hide! But relational authority is more powerful and longer lasting than positional authority.
- Create a fun environment. This does not mean that work is not a place where work gets done. Quite the contrary. This generation wants to look forward to going to work. In fact, all generations would like that. Millennials are more intent on wanting a fun and friendly environment where they are enjoying work and growing as individuals. They are attracted to organizations that promote company gatherings or teambuilding events. Having fun together and getting to know each other at work has also been shown to increase productivity.
By applying these 6 ideas employers will have the best chance of attracting and retaining the workforce of the future – and the future is here.
Would you like an in depth, practical, interacting and some easy-to-use techniques to improve your organization and inspire your workforce to new levels of productivity? Order your copy of Managing the Millennials, 2nd Edition today.