Millennials are the fastest growing generation at work right now, and among the most diverse generation in U.S. History.
Fittingly called "Generation Y," they are entrepreneurial, innovative, and ambitious. And although they tend to get a bad rap, the Millennial workforce is comprised of people who value real-time feedback and collaboration, expect opportunities to learn and develop, and prefer purpose over pay.
Knowing their characteristics and understanding how to best connect and engage with them can only help maximize your chances of retaining them at your company - which you’ll find to be invaluable.
The following are some best practicesto consider when engaging the largest workforce today:
They value collaboration & feedback
Generation Y prefers to work with you, not for you. When their opinions aren’t recognized, they can become disengaged from their work. They are the most collaborative workforce to date; they value new ideas and crave direct feedback. Millennials need to be listened to and know that their input is being heard and processed at a higher level.
Though, this doesn’t mean they don’t want feedback on the job they’re doing. In fact, a recent study by Viacom found that:
- 8 out of 10 Millennials want regular feedback on their performance
- 61% of Millennials say they need specific directions in order to do their best work
- Two-thirds of them want to be included in a mentorship program
Gen Y is incredibly driven and they don't want to just work, but succeed. Creating a culture of collaboration will ensure employees feel that their ideas are being embraced and their contributions matter. This includes how you communicate in the workplace as well.
They prefer text messaging and other messaging platforms like Slack or Facebook Messenger. Millennials especially need a platform for collaborative, crowd-sourced employee conversations. Having a solution set up for anonymous feedback and conversations will also make them feel more comfortable being open and honest in the workplace.
They expect to learn and develop
Increased productivity and employee engagement are directly linked to how supported and valued Millennials feel. Moreover, 87% say professional development or career growth opportunities are very important to them in a job. According to a recent Gallup report, Millennials actually place the following job attributes ahead of income:
- Opportunities to learn and grow
- Quality of management
- Interest in type of work
- Opportunities for advancement
Understanding their learning and workplace preferences will go a long way in leading and empowering Millennials. Don’t let this feel like a daunting task; this doesn’t always have to be delivered face-to-face. In fact, Millennials are largely visual learners. You can provide regular feedback and transparent pathways for leadership development even through digital means like video conferences or online portals.
Create an employee experience that is both inspirational and developmental, and you’ll be rewarded with employees that are almost three times more productive than dissatisfied employees.
They want purpose in their career
Millennials are extremely invested in making a difference in the world. As a result, they often will only take on work that truly matters to them. A recent Deloitte study found only 20% of Millennials were happy working for a company that didn’t have a set mission. Conversely, the study found that 88% of Millennials would stay with their company for more than five years if they were happy with their company's mission.
We must give Millennial employees purpose, not perks. Don't give them free swag promoting your company, but rather constantly cast vision and give them tasks with meaning. Make them feel like they belong and that they are part of a community with a shared goal that is bigger than any one person. Empower them to contribute ideas and provide constant feedback. This will reveal their individual purpose and desires in the workplace, with which you can build upon.
They want their work to fit their life
Take into account how, when, and where Millennials prefer to work as well. Long gone are the days of logging eight hours a day behind a desk, just waiting for 5 pm to strike. Millennials care deeply about a work/life balance.
Flexible hours and opportunities to work remote play a big part in that. While that makes Gen-Xer’s nervous, research shows employees are healthier, more engaged and productive with flexible working environments.
Knowing how to engage and lead the largest generation in U.S. Workforce history is essential for the future of your business. At the end of the day, Millennials put stock in the same things we all do - open communication, direct-feedback, opportunities to grow, and work that makes a difference in their lives and the lives of others. In return, they will give you innovation, teamwork, leadership, strong performance, and more productivity.