by Roxanna Coldiron
Ready or not, Millennials have begun to take over the workforce. The Millennial generation, those born between 1981 and 1997, possess a 38 percent chunk of the workforce in various industries throughout the United States and have already surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest living generation .
Older employers might not be prepared for the changes that Millennials can bring to their employment, but learning how to manage and mentor Millennials can prove invaluable in creating the right company atmosphere and moving the company forward within the ever-changing landscape in technology and the way people work.
Despite popular belief, Millennials are not worse than any other generation, nor are they better. Instead, we should think of Millennials as evidence of progress. This group of people, who now range in age from 20 to 36, bring a wide variety of technological experiences and social viewpoints to the table. Older Millennials remember life before the proliferation of cell phones in every pocket and realistic 3D graphics on computer screens, while younger Millennials have never known a world without smartphones and touchscreens.
Expectations for Millennials have also changed during their lifetime. They have graduated with soaring student loan debt, sometimes forced to live with their parents longer than previous generations, and worked more internships just to get to where they want to be in their careers. Being able to adapt so quickly to new technologies has also helped Millennials become leaders in the business startup community. Despite what has been said before, Millennials work hard. They just desire more flexibility than the traditional 9-to-5 job.
With these things in mind, how can your company improve how it works with Millennials?
Recognize the value of Millennials.
Millennials have much to offer your company. They can bring new ideas, improve upon existing ones or just adapt to your new systems and technologies quickly. To be able to work with Millennials, the company first has to recognize the value that Millennials can bring. Don’t discount their ideas or their contributions.
Provide job clarity in both the job description and its expectations.
When interviewing and hiring Millennials for a new position, make sure to be accurate in what the position will entail and how productivity is measured. What will the day-to-day routine be like? What metrics are used to measure progress or success within the job? Are there rewards for good performance, and what are those rewards? Millennials want to see that their work makes a difference. Knowing what they’re expected to do is a great way to start.
Show them the Big Picture.
Millennials have a reputation for job-hopping. They leave jobs for other ones that pay more or that offer opportunities for advancement. Show Millennials the Big Picture of your company through career development opportunities and challenging new work experiences.
According to Gallup’s “How Millennials Want to Work and Live” report, 50 percent of Millennials don’t see themselves at their current company a year from now and six in 10 Millennials have already begun thinking about looking for other opportunities. What does a career path look like at your company? Map out the various career paths within your company. This allows Millennials to see future potential. Without room for growth, Millennials might begin looking for a way out.
Offer unique benefits.
Millennials often want some flexibility in how they work, so provide work-at-home and telecommuting opportunities a few times a week. More vacation days or personal days can help them achieve the work/life balance that they seek. Or, develop a student loan paydown plan that helps them to lower their student loan debt. Other benefits could be on-site child care, flexible start/end times for the work day and more. Employers should want to be able to treat their employees well. Offering a unique set of benefits such as these can help.
Establish a mentoring program.
Millennials want to succeed in their careers. Create a mentoring program that allows Millennials to watch how veterans do their jobs but also gives them the opportunity to “own” projects of their own. Provide plenty of constructive feedback. Let them know what they’re doing well and how they can do their job even better. Keep an open door policy for those Millennials who have questions or need extra help in learning the ropes. Have resources online and in handbooks around the office that will make it possible for Millennials (and any entry-level employee) to find the answers they need to do their jobs properly. Regular coaching sessions can also guide Millennials on their career journey at the company.
Hold them accountable.
Once they have a clear job description, they can be held accountable for their performance. You do not need to stand over their shoulders or engage in micromanaging. Instead, ensure that they have the metrics that the company uses for evaluating them and a means to see how they regularly measure up in reaching their target work goals. At the same time, be cognizant of circumstances as well. This means letting Millennials know that they can come to their manager with any issues they have with their work or in meeting their deadlines. Finding workable solutions for these problems is part of accountability.
Create a fun company culture.
Millennials care about the culture and atmosphere of their places of employment. Make it fun. This could be as simple as casual Fridays, regular manager-provided office lunches or company-wide volunteer activities. Maybe employees can bring their dogs to work. There could be a de-stress room filled with games and bean bag chairs for when employees need a mental break. Give them opportunities to recharge throughout the day, so that they return to their desks with a refreshed sense of wellbeing and the motivation they need to move forward.
Millennials desire the opportunity to lead. Give them projects that they can own and that allow them to work with teams. Even entry-level employees need the chance to challenge themselves as leaders. These opportunities will make work more meaningful and thus, give Millennials a purpose for what they do for the company.