Changing Attitudes; How To Get The Most Out Of A Millennial Workforce
They have been called the entitlement generation, or the “everyone gets a trophy for participating” generation. They are the millennial generation, an estimated 80 million 21 to 35-year-olds, and they are taking over the workforce. It is estimated that by 2020, this demographic will comprise about 50% of the workforce. Is it any wonder that HR departments are feeling the influence; good and bad, of this generation in a very real way?
The millennial generation, in addition to being one of the largest demographic groups, is also the most educated, most connected and most culturally diverse of any generation that came before. They are also the least likely to stay at an unsatisfying job or see the value in “paying their dues.” In fact, millennials are almost notorious for their job-hopping tendencies and their dislike of busy work and red tape. They tend to buckle under bureaucracy. It seems that far too often, this generation is pegged as lazy, entitled or self-absorbed by their older peers. Somewhere in between insolence and innovation, between self-awareness and self-centered lies the heart of what makes millennials both frustratingly different and potentially fantastic for your company. It is simply a matter of perspective.
How To Get The Most Out Of A Millennial Workforce
1. Create A Collaborative Culture. One of the complaints most often leveled at millennials is the “everyone gets a trophy attitude”. It is easy to dismiss this as a naïve and childish outlook since there are winners and losers in life. What you may miss, however, is that there may be value in the “trophy” mindset. It is a mindset in which everyone’s contribution, no matter how small, is valuable. It is an idea that puts teamwork ahead of individual glory, and it is a concept that can encourage an array of perspectives to offer insight.
Millennials thrive when they are included, so why not include them? A workplace that listens to the ideas of its employees, from the top to the bottom, is a work environment that is very rarely blindsided by problems or changes. This generation thrives when their input is actually heard and a boss that creates a genuinely open door policy for criticism and creativity may find that millennials have valid ideas to offer.
2. Instill Meaning And Offer Vision. Millennials have grown up with the world at their fingertips. They matured in tandem with the internet and as such, they have no comprehension of time in which all of the human knowledge wasn’t just a click away. While some might point to an overwhelming obsession with cats and Kardashians as a major downside of the internet; no one can argue that the web hasn’t made a huge impression in business. It actually has created a globally connected perspective for so many. Is it any wonder then, why millennials have grown up with the expectation that they should be included in the company’s bigger picture?
Creating a corporate culture in which employees are not only privy to the big plan but also shown their role in that structure creates a deeper meaning for your employees. Helping millennials understand their role in a bigger picture not only gives them a greater sense of purpose. It also helps boost productivity and morale by making them feel valued as a part of the team.
3. Offer The Three F’s. Faith, Feedback, and Flexibility. Overall Millennials, more than any generation before them, grew up in a world with many freedoms. They grew up in an age in which parents were more connected via phone, email or text message. But they were also more likely to be left home alone as latch-key kids with parents at work. They have grown up as a generation that had more parental trust than their parents typically did and this had led to a group of people that abhor micro-management. One of the greatest complaints about millennials is their tendency to job-hop in search of a job that better fits their ideals. One of the most common complaints leveled by millennials is that they are looking for mentors or leaders instead of just a boss.
This may be one of the best lessons that millennials can offer their employer; how to be a leader rather than a boss. Millennials are looking for organizations that will give them the tools to do their job and trust that they will do it. They are looking for companies that will help them grow in their careers with honest feedback and clear plans for success. Finally, they are looking for the flexibility to do things differently, the flexibility to have a work/life balance and the flexibility to shake up the status quo for the better. In reality, there are very few companies that can thrive without a little shake-up of ideas from time to time.
Some may bemoan millennials in the workplace, for all their flaws and foibles and quirks. But the reality is that millennials are here to stay, and a smart businessperson knows that more often than not it is better to flow with the tide than to try to fight it. After all, having a handle on managing the millennial generation is the first step in understanding what is to come… Generation Z.