They appear to be gaining a notorious reputation for being flighty, demanding and difficult in the workplace. How accurate is this reputation of the millennial, and how do employers retain this “problem” generation?
Millennials (the generation born between 1988 and 2000) are quickly joining the workforce, and unlike the Gen-Xers or Baby Boomers, they have grown up under a style of parenting that supported individual empowerment, had more structured lives, and more contact with diversity in their early-late schooling and workplaces.
But these employees are often getting a bad rap for coming into the workforce with an immediate sense of entitlement, a want of quick progression, and a tendency to be unreliable. While that’s a gross overgeneralization, it’s fair to say that millennials are looking for a feeling that they’re more than a cog in a massive machine. They are searching for a workplace that is close to their own ethical beliefs – one of equal pay, diversity in management, and integrity in company goals.
Millennials also may expect a timetable for career advancement that comes off as unrealistic to their managers; The most successful response to this is a simple one: compromise. Make it clear that advancement isn’t possible on the millennial’s idealized schedule, but that if they make a commitment to their current position and department that may seem long to them (yet is shorter than the previous norm in your company), they will be rewarded with additional opportunities for growth and responsibility on a timetable that they can depend on.
However, this generation comes with a deeply engrained and intuitive understanding of how technology can drive your business forward. They take initiative to reach their seemingly-ambitious goals, and if you don’t provide them with enough of a challenge, the most connected generation in history will network themselves right out of your firm. If their work, and their workplace is not diverse enough, they are a click away from somewhere that fulfils their needs.
So, what changes could firms be considering to ease the transition from baby boomers into millennial management?
- Provide structure.
Reports need due dates, meetings have agendas and minutes and goals are clearly stated and progress is assessed. Be careful not to box in the younger generation with inflexible work hours, millennials are notorious for tracking progress, and their overarching ambition.
- Encourage their positive self-assuredness, and their enthusiasm for equality.
They are ready to take on the world. They’ve grown up in an environment which strives for equality between women and men, where your background should not have an impact on your career trajectory. Encourage their battle for a fairer and more diverse workplace. It will only make your business more dynamic.
- Millennial employees are multi-taskers on a scale you’ve never seen before.
Multiple tasks don’t phase them. Talk on the phone while doing email and answering multiple instant messages—yes! This is a way of life. In fact, without many different tasks and goals to pursue within the week, the millennials will likely experience distraction.
- Capitalize on the millennial’s affinity for networking.
Not just comfortable with teams and group activities, your millennial employee likes to network around the world electronically. Keep this in mind because they are able to post their CV electronically as well on web job boards viewed by millions of employers. They intermingle on sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn and rate your company at Glassdoor.com. Sought after employees, they are loyal, but they keep their options open—always. If not happy, they will network right out of your workplace…
- Provide a dynamic, employee-centred workplace.
Millennials want to enjoy their work. They want to enjoy their workplace. They want to make friends in their workplace. Worry if your millennial employees aren’t laughing, going out with workplace friends for lunch, and helping plan the next company event or committee. Help your long-term employees make room for the millennials.
As this generation will inevitably overtake as the majority of your workforce, there will be changes that need to be made. Change can be both good and bad, and making sure you are prepared before undertaking such big developments in your business is essential. Whatever the generation you simply cannot allow your best talent to leave your firm and, in the worst scenario, go and work for a competitor.