Over the last decade we have seen a significant shift in workplace demographics, with Millennials (the generation born between 1980 and 2000) set to make up 75% of the world’s workforce by 2025. So, it’s only natural that one of the most topical issues for employers is how to attract, retain and develop millennial professionals.
Millennials possess characteristics and motivations that differ significantly from earlier generations in regard to the workplace and by understanding how millennials think, you can better manage both their strengths and their weaknesses.
Here are nine guidelines to help adapt your organisation’s management styles to get the best from your millennial employees.
- Provide opportunities for learning and development.
Millennials are the first generation of digital natives. They have mastered multitasking through early exposure to a wide range of media. This generation has grown up in a culture of immediacy, surrounded by stimuli. They are impatient, eager for new experiences and thrive on short-term goals with visible results.
Managers must help millennials “level up” by identifying opportunities to develop new skills, as they have big career goals and high expectations of rapid career progression. For example, your business can retain their attention by frequently assigning new and different projects or temporary positions within the same company.
- Offer a balance between personal and professional life.
Millennials want a healthy work-life balance. These workers expect and demand more flexibility from their jobs than previous generations. Expert multitaskers, todays’ constantly connected young workers are challenging the concept of traditional office life. They desire the ability to work remotely and flexibly. With technological advancements, working remotely has been made simple. Millennials do not want to be tied to a desk for eight-hour days! They prioritise results over marathon work sessions.
- Money isn’t everything.
Money isn’t the only thing motivating millennial employees. Younger employees aren’t just looking to make a quick buck; they want to be engaged and feel like they are making a difference in their work. What they value most is the attractiveness of the work itself, mobility (both geographical and between assignments), the opportunity to meet people and network and a relaxed atmosphere.
It’s very important to engage Millennials in their workplace, providing them with the opportunity to “customise” their benefits, with things like additional days off or flexible hours. Find ways to involve your team in existing office or community initiatives or, better yet, ask them to suggest new ones.
Millennials are very ambitious, with big career goals, they are interested in reaching executive positions where they can have an impact on the world.
Millennials don’t want to follow the traditional vertical promotions up the totem pole structure. Instead they seek jobs that offer a wide range of experiences that allow them to be in contact with and learn from interesting people, interacting with other professionals and teams.
Up-skilling is instinctive to Millennials. They desire opportunities to demonstrate their potential and capabilities to their bosses, so invite them to join a management committee or to attend an informal event with top executives to foster an environment of inclusion
- Make way for more movement.
Millennials make career decisions more autonomously; they work today thinking about the position they will have tomorrow. They don’t fear change and won’t wait around indefinitely to achieve their goals. They are not afraid to leave a job if their work doesn’t show a clear purpose, development opportunities, positive working environment or a beneficial work life balance.
To retain them, it is therefore advisable to plan frequent career conversations. And when a Millennial wants to move on, find out what failed and take action.
- Be mentors, not bosses.
Millennials don’t want (nor will respond to) an archaic management system that dictates rules and restrictions. Instead this generation craves mentors that are approachable and able to guide and inspire them.
Today’s workers don’t need a Big Brother figure hovering over them constantly. They want leaders who set them up for success and instil a sense of bigger purpose that gives them the confidence to persevere when work gets challenging.
Creating a relationship of trust and understanding will earn managers the respect of Millennials.
- Create a strong company culture.
Millennials want their work to have meaning and purpose. When they see the relevance of what they do, they will dedicate their blood, sweat and tears to help the company grow.
If the company culture is not consistent, or the Executive Team don’t have true buy in to the values they purport to have, they will quickly notice and seriously reconsider whether they should move on.
- Recognise their need for recognition.
Millennials don’t want trophies, they want validation, recognition and reinforcement. A simple “thank you” or great job will go a long way.
Their work is an important part of the daily life and so receiving other’s approval creates a positive work environment.
- Take the good with the bad.
Millennials are hard-working, over-achievers who are passionate about their work. Lead them right and they will surely perform beyond your expectations.
Their desire to publicly promote themselves, and their natural ability to build images and stories from their own personal and professional life experiences, has made them a powerful vehicle for marketing and communication. You can turn the right young employee into a brand ambassador, a great way to do this is by making them a spokesperson for the company on social media.
- Don’t disconnect the digital natives.
Don’t forbid or hinder the use of technology and social media during work hours. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are a daily part of a Millennial’s work and life. So much so that up to 56% of Millennials would turn down a job that denied them access to social networks.
Encourage Millennials to build upon their technology and social media competencies to benefit your company. Inverse mentoring programs allow your more mature employees to learn from Millennials.
Love them or hate them, Millennials are here to stay; it’s all about how to invest in them accurately to make the most of it. Managers from previous generations stand to learn more about the world we live in and to make better decisions accordingly.