Call them what you will – Millennials, Generation Y or Gen Next, we all like to spend countless hours observing them and discussing every trait of their personalities like a strange alien life force. If you haven’t already noticed, the workforce is becoming saturated with millennials. They now make up one-third of the world’s workforce.
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Engage Millennials In The WorkPlace
We Are the Children of the (Digital) Revolution
But just WHO are they?? They are the generation who will be responsible for driving you into the new age of business. They will force you to leave behind your old and even current processes, and hierarchal business structure in lieu of customer-centric strategies and a focus on creating the best environment and culture for your staff.
Shaped by the emerging technological revolution, economic downturns and enormous social and political events that changed the world we live in forever. Coupled with the fact that they spent less time with their parents than generations before them, they were pushed towards adulthood at an early age fueling a generation that is both independent and self-reliant, having developed rigid opinions on the need for a great work/life balance.
Millennials are motivated by their passion to succeed and driven by personal purposes and missions. They have had an exponential amount of information at their fingertips for years as well as a plethora of platforms that have the ability to catapult them into a worldwide spotlight. With all the information that is available, they are accustomed to recognizing content and companies that are authentic and are drawn to these. Dreaming big is a natural part of their being and in this digital age, not something to be laughed at.
Millennials are repeatable described as, “Entitled and narcissistic” which is wrong on more than one level. The first being, it simply isn’t right to generalize on the traits of an entire generation. Furthermore, I would argue that these particular descriptions have been circulated by disgruntled employers who haven’t given enough to the generation to allow them to reap the benefits of all the innovation and creativity that they have to offer.
Hold Tight, It Might Be a Bumpy Ride
Politically and environmentally aware – they are self-assured in their values and expect others, including employers, to take these into consideration.
Unfortunately, the fact remains that large corporate businesses and titans of industry are failing to learn from mistakes that their competitors are making – move with the times or you WILL get left behind. The truth is that if you are ignorant or simply unwilling to embrace the cultural changes in business that Generation Y are unlocking, you too will eventually decline, providing opportunities for start-ups that have a vision, optimism and plenty of knowledge of how NOT to conduct themselves from businesses that are crumbling all around them. It was only today that TechCrunch reported the demise of Nokia and the effect that this has on Finnish start-ups.
If you want to employ the best of the best, you need to reevaluate what you have to offer the new workforce because rest assured, they will be evaluating it, and Millennial Branding reported that 30% of businesses have lost 15% of their millennial workforce, putting them at a disadvantage. So just how do you engage and retain this forward thinking, disruptive generation?
Generation Y is inherently socially conscious, so start with your businesses relationship with its local community, what are you doing to support the social landscape that your company and staff call home? Corporate social responsibility is big news is business right now, and thanks to the deeply ingrained values of millennials, it isn’t something that is set to be a fad. Whether you are actively striving to lower your impact on the environment, have an ongoing affiliation with a charity or invest in modern, tech-based efforts that are striving to put an end to global issues, re-evaluating what your business puts back into the world will only ever be a positive step. Authenticity is key, so round up your current troops and create a unified vision of the company that everyone will buy into.
Cash Is King, but Perks Are Good Too
Let’s be honest, salaries are still high on the agenda and good staff need to be paid well. However, with this in mind there are plenty of other ways that you can provide benefits for your workforce. 2 words – employee benefits; health insurance, corporate wellness programmes and generous parental leave are just a few that other successful companies have adopted.
Chinese philosopher Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Millennials are hell bent on enjoying every aspect of their life, which includes their career and the impact that it has in the other areas of their lives. They aren’t conforming to traditional processes so be prepared to shake up your much-defined working hours and office spaces. Millennials don’t want to be confined to office walls. The concept of physically being in an office day in day out is somewhat lost on them as is the traditional 9-5 hours of work. Emerging companies have begun to set the precedent by introducing offices that are open 24/7 so that employees can work the hours in which they are most productive.
If this is one step too far for your business, concentrate your efforts on making the company culture one that that is appealing and something your employees are proud to be a part of. Regular team lunches, healthy food and snacks available, and consideration and kindness applied in generous helpings (i.e., not docking wages for sick children, loss in the family, etc.) will equate to a happy and motivated team. And who doesn’t want a happy and motivated team? I’ve never heard any smart business owner say, ‘’No thanks, I want unmotivated and miserable staff please’’, because it doesn’t make sense. Nor does it make sense for you to choose not to implement small changes that will have an enormous impact.
Find areas where you can exhibit a high level of trust with your employees and relinquish some control. If your employees then don’t excel themselves when they aren’t micro-managed, you will quickly identify members of the team who are not right for the business.
When The Student is Ready, The Master Appears
The value of education is not lost on millennials, they live to learn, so utilizing this desire for knowledge with a solid mentorship programme. Keep them challenged with fresh projects along with continued professional development, sharpening all of the tools they possess on a consistent basis.
“This opportunity to learn needs to be underpinned with achievable career progression prospects, so treat your staff as an investment”, explains Nicola Mewse Group Managing Director from Hales Group. “Millennials have grown up in an age of instant gratification, if they have the prize in sight, they will work hard to ensure it is theirs.”
Is it fair to call them high maintenance? I don’t think so, and neither do they – unless it is said with a positive connotation because high maintenance is leading to high performance. Staff recognition has a legacy of being overlooked by employers and Millennials are here to change the model, being treated fairly and respectfully can only lead to content and confident employees, resulting in high levels of productivity and ultimately, profitability.