We’ve received numerous enquiries from business owners and HR managers frustrated with their Millennial employees. They seem disengaged. They’re overly opinionated. They’re self-absorbed. The list goes on. Often, what appears to be the problem is a misinterpretation of the situation.
There’s no doubt that the expectations of Millennials are different to those of their parents and grandparents. Their values must align with the company they work for. They crave variety and they’re more concerned with striking a better work/ life balance than money.
If you can understand their motivations and needs, then Millennials can be a powerful addition to your workforce, bringing vibrance and a fresh way of thinking to your organisation. Here are five things you need to understand about Millennials to get the most out of them.
#1. Look at your culture
As I mentioned Millennials are far more selective about the type of company they work for. Like anyone, they want to work for an organisation they can be proud of. Unlike previous decades, however, this may have nothing to do with size or turnover. Rather they may want to work with an organisation that values diversity or collaboration or corporate social responsibility. These are cultural elements and employers having to look long and hard at what they stand for in order to attract the right kind of talent.
#2. Offer a clear career path
In an age of immediate gratification and answers at the tip of their finger, Millennials aren’t used to standing around and guessing what the outcome is going to be. When it comes to their career they want to know what is expected of them, how they will progress through your organisation and what the limitations will be.
By offering a clear career path, with milestones and expectations, you can entice the most talented to join your company. Just be sure you can back-up whatever you agree to.
#3. Give them structure
Following on from my second point, structure is an essential part of managing Millennials. Through school and university, looking at tasks on a project-by-project basis has become the norm for them. Adapting your management processes to reflect this can make a huge difference to engaging your Millennial workers.
Clearly define assignments and success factors. Make sure reports have set due dates and that meetings have agendas and minutes.
Having a list of tasks that can be ticked off, as opposed to one vague goal, feeds into the Millennial need for instant gratification.
#4. Acknowledge their efforts and opinions
This is often an element older generations of employers struggle with. If your attitude is that employers are paid to do a job and they should be glad of it, then you’re probably not going to get far with your Millennial staff.
A challenge of their need for instant gratification is that they almost expect to be acknowledged for the work before they do it. However, showing them how the work they do adds value to your business and recognising their efforts through various incentives – not necessarily financial but perhaps in terms of social rewards or time in lieu – can go a long way.
Equally, this generation has grown up in a world of collaboration. Schools, teams, societies, and universities emphasise the value of team work and that a strong team is more effective than any one individual. As such, Millennials are used to sharing their thoughts and opinions with their seniors just as much as with their peers.
Accept that they are not intentionally acting out of turn and they will value your constructive criticism as much as they appreciate your giving their opinions genuine consideration.
#5. Avoid boredom
Millennials are used to doing a 101 things at the same time. From sending an email while on the phone, to networking face-to-face and social media all at the same time, they’re the ultimate multi-taskers.
If you’re not challenging them, they will quickly get bored; and a bored Millennial is a disengaged worker; and a disengaged worker can be more harmful to your operation than anything else.
Meet with them regularly to ensure they are happy with the workload; that they find it challenging and interesting and that they see the purpose of what they’re doing.
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