Millennials! Born between the early 1980’s and the early 2000’s, this generation are now representing a significant portion of the work force. The word itself has come to symbolize not only a generation of people but the entire modern condition brought on by technology, globalism, interconnectedness, diminishing attention spans and a heightened sense of self-importance.
Not only are we selling products to this generation but we are employing them so its important that we look at how best to manage this shift in your business. But first I just wanted to remind you of two things. First, generational disruption is inevitable since each generation had different needs. If you don't understand how to get the best from each then someone else will. Second, while discussing generalities is useful, remember that each person on your team, regardless of age, is an individual and should be viewed and treated as such.
Millennials who are your employees
Research and surveys conducted over the last few years have revealed that younger workers want to feel good about what they do. In the office/at work, millennials want a firsthand view of the impact of the work they do. They wan to know - is there a clear connection between their daily tasks and the greater vision of the organization? Can they have real influence over that vision and the end product your organization produces? If you can define the significance of the role each member of your team plays, they will be more internally motivated and committed.
On another level, millennials want the companies they work for to be change agents in the world. This generation is very engaged in social issues. They have a strong belief that what they do 40 hours a week should contribute, in some way, to making the world a better place. So here's what you can do: Make sure you highligt your companies philanthropic efforts. Another way to demonstrate your sense of social responsibility is to organise volunteer activities. Pick a cause or causes, allot some time during the workday, encourage your team to get involved and spend time volunteering together. You can use these as team building opportunities, which make them even more important to consider.
Another theme that is emerging as millennials take over the work world is flexibility. Millennials want more control over when they work, where they work, how they work and what they work on. This generation have a hard time coming to grips with a 9-5 work day since the world online is 24/7 and is always ready when they are. Younger workers also understand more about flow states, inducing peak performance and creating conditions that foster creativity. They believe they can be just as effective working from home a couple hours in the early morning, taking a long lunch, and then coming into the office or meeting clients for coffee. Making these accommodations, when appropriate, will go a long way in getting buy-in from your millennial employees. It’s also likely to result in better work and more effort from your team. You will also find younger workers are looking for roles that are more fluid and flexible. The digital world they grew up in has been changing and growing and teaching them constantly. At work they want to continue to learn and develop new skills. They do this by stretching their responsibilities and tackling new opportunities as they are presented. Rewarding well-done work with money is easy. But, offering new responsibilities and being open to new approaches really communicates to your team that you value them and that you want for them, what they want for themselves.
Finally, members of the millennial generation consistently mention authenticity as a trait they value. This is quite the buzz word online. Be authentic. Be yourself. Millenials really respond to geniune, direct communication -this is possibly a reaction to their heavy exposure to marketing. So, be upfront and give feedback that is clear and honest. This way they will be confident they know where they stand which will alleviate anxiety and increase their sense of loyalty.
Regardless of the kind of business you’re in, if they are not already, Millennials will soon dominate your workforce. Millennials are incredibly creative, adaptive and competent. In order to best harness that talent, you have to create a culture and environment that empowers younger workers. That means being committed to authenticity and flexibility while taking opportunities to make the world a better place.
One half of the Anywhere Team NZ