In recent years, the question of how to work with millennials in the workplace has become an increasing dilemma for many employers. This unique type of employee can seem disconnected, flighty and high maintenance. At the same time, many bring a level of creativity and tech-savvy to the workplace that’s sorely needed.
How can you as an employer effectively utilize this younger sector of the workforce? It starts with understanding who they are and what motivates them.
Who are Millennials?
Statistically, a millennial is classified as anyone born between the years of 1981 and 1996. This generation is described by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, as “most likely the most-studied generation in history.”
There are over 80 million millennials in the U.S., and it is estimated that within the next couple of years, millennials will make up over 50% of the country’s workforce. With numbers like that, it’s essential for today’s business leaders to learn how to motivate this key demographic, one that’s often accused of being distracted or lacking motivation.
Let’s look at some suggestions to help you effectively motivate the millennials in your workplace.
One of the biggest distinguishers of the millennial generation is their relationship with technology. It’s a blessing and a curse: seen negatively, it’s dependence or addiction. Seen positively, it’s an innate understanding that you can use.
The more tech resources you can furnish your millennial team members, the more they will thrive. Millennials value the ability to work whenever they want, wherever they want. Facilitate that flexibility where you can through work from home or similar arrangements.
Millennials also understand how to utilize technology as an extension of themselves. They’re likely to chafe under a traditional view that all work happens on the work laptop. In this world of Apple Watches and smartphones, millennials want to use a variety of devices to get the job done.
With high-volume technology use comes the tendency for millennials to be frustrated with conventional workplace limitations. Millennials have little patience for red tape and are always looking for a technological shortcut to get to their goal faster.
If you can view this as a feature, not a bug, you will be cultivating a more productive and happier workforce—and you’ll get some innovative solutions from your younger workforce.
Make It Personal
While it is true that millennials thrive on technological tools, they also thrive on certain types of personal interaction. Many of the millennial generation feel trapped in their jobs and view themselves as only a tiny component within a large, faceless machine. They believe that their employer cares about nothing but the bottom line.
The way to combat those feelings of insignificance is to demonstrate an interest in your individual millennial employees. It’s true that they are looking for this more than the generations before them. Show them their value by investing personally in their growth. Make the workplace as fun as possible and give them opportunities to create and excel.
Encourage a Long-Term Future
Because millennials desire to excel, lack of progress is a key contributor to their generation’s high employment turnover. Last year, 21% of millennials changed jobs and a much higher percentage suggested they’d be open to an employment change, according to one industry survey.
Millennials want to experience a sense of accomplishment and see measurable progress in their careers. Feeling dead-ended is a killer to their job longevity.
How then can you encourage your millennial employees to pursue a more long-term career?
One option: institute smaller steppingstones between promotions – title changes, upgraded responsibilities, etc. Even these small checkpoints can increase your millennial employees’ sense of company loyalty.
Investing in education and professional development is another way to combat millennial turnover. Show your best employees that you’re invested in them, and watch them return the favor.
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