Millennial employees? Here’s how you can manage them effectively
“Generation Gap” a term that summarises the differences in attitudes, opinions and an overall way of conducting among people of different generations. The term was just a topic of a living room debate or college campus until the same group began to join the workforce. And that’s how the concept of ‘managing millennials’ came in to being.
Millennials are defined as a group of people born during the early 1980s to mid-1990s (jeez, that makes me also a millennial). The reason for highlighting this specific group is because as you read this, you would recollect a number of your own employees already falling in this age group. And according to a study, millennials would comprise 50% of your total employees by the year 2020; in just about 2 years from now. 52% of these millennials share a belief that employee loyalty is overrated according to a study by Elance-Odesk. On the other end of the spectrum are 53% of the hiring managers who find it difficult to search and retain millennial employees.
What’s unique/different about millennials?
To know what’s so unique about millennials, you need to know their likes and dislikes. Millennials, as a generation, love to work in teams and make friends. They are more than willing to work with diverse co-workers. They demonstrate a strong ‘can-do’ attitude and are positive about taking up challenges.
Having said that, they also search for reliable leadership and structure in their organisation. This would mean having a good work-life balance, indulging in socialising and philanthropic activities after work, etc. To accommodate this, they prefer a certain amount of flexibility in their schedule too.
They have the benefit of technology at their fingertips (mostly because it grew many folds during their time) making them the most connected generation in your office. They would barely hesitate to leverage this skill to network their way out if they are ‘bored’. Their search for enthusiasm, energy and challenges often drives them to join and leave a job.
So with a generation that’s so active and enterprising, your way of managing them would also need an upgrade. You might not be able to hire or retain a millennial using the same techniques you had for their previous generations. Hence, here are some tips that could help you improve your workforce management for millennials.
10 Tips to manage the millennial workforce effectively:
Millennials look for the ‘feel good’ aspect in everything they do. So much so that those who feel that they are working in a great workplace are 25% more likely to plan a long-term future at the company they’re in. But to do that, you need to also acknowledge and offer them certain things in exchange. These are not just monetary benefits (which are equally important) but also other things like:
1. Providing structure
Structure gives the millennials boundaries in which they can operate. This does not mean a set of strict rules or hard limits. Instead look at it as a set of soft limits which allows for some autonomy and flexibility. This could be possible by giving them a clear understanding of goals, targets and timelines. Have agendas for meetings and discuss the success factors for every assignment you give. Encourage the follow-up of the commitments to other teammates.
2. Provide leadership and guidance
Millennials look up to you probably more than you realise. They are keen observers and are constantly observing you, your actions, the way you do things and adapt accordingly. Hence, it is important that you are setting the right example. A simple thing like being punctual to the office yourself will encourage them to be on time too. Replicate it in other areas of work like maintaining deadlines, coming to the meeting on time, not overshooting sessions and so on. Your guidance and example work wonders when it comes to millennials so be sure to get it right.
3. Communicate the ‘why’
Millennials are also a very curious generation. They’ve seen Google and searched for possibly more things than anyone else. Therefore, it is important that you communicate the ‘why’ very clearly. Eg: Why you do what you do? Or why a particular project needs a certain outcome? Or why do you expect them to behave in a certain manner at the workplace? The ‘why’ gives them a purpose and becomes one of their motivators if they are convinced of your thinking.
4. Encourage the can-do attitude
Millennial employees have a very strong and positive self-image. This is reflected in their ‘can-do’ attitude whenever you assign them a task. Encourage this attitude even in professional matters. Positively motivate them towards the task you assign and they would surprise you with their exceptional performance and results. Having constant challenges and trying to achieve it keeps them both engaged and interested in the job. At the same time if they don’t achieve it, don’t put them down but instead tactfully motivate them again to do their best.
5. Encourage teamwork
Impersonal and transactional behaviour sucks the life out of the millennials, well at least for most of them. They hate being confined by the cubicle without interacting with others. And just a formal, work-related talk also seldom does any good. Millennials are team players and the more you encourage that, the better they tend to perform.
6. Listen to the employees
They have ideas and opinions which they want to express. Give them a listening ear as and when possible. Have a feedback mechanism in place where they can express their thoughts freely. Have constant, positive and corrective feedback on a regular basis. This would make them feel as if it is a part of the organisational culture and not something to be afraid of. Do ‘catch them doing right’ and appreciate it too. This would boost their confidence and assure them that you’re not just finding faults. You will find that this alone can raise the ‘employee loyalty‘ bar a notch higher.
7. Investing in employee training
Feedback without appropriate action is just a conversation. Check what things your millennial employees need to get their work done. Provide training, workshops and seminars accordingly. As mentioned before, they are a curious lot and are willing to learn and grasp almost all that comes their way. Use this for collateral gain and invest in improving their skills regularly.
8. Leverage their technological dependence
Millennials are generally good with technology because they grew up with it. They have been using it since the time gadgets and computers entered. They have seen the industry boom and kept up to the pace. They have tons of applications that can get a lot of things done in an easier, faster and cost-effective way. They also have ideas that would make the entire online migration safer and more engaging to your potential customers. Ask for ideas, involve their feedbacks every time you consider a technological upgrade. This would not just make their life easy but optimise the overall productivity of the business too.
9. Capitalise on their networking skills
Millennials have your clients in their contacts as friends and your target audience in their social media groups. Use these networking skills to upgrade the way you reach out to your present and potential customers. They can source more reliable talent, make accurate target personas and keep a tab on your competitors’ activities all from a single screen. This would not just help you improvise on your services but also assure millennials that they are not working in an outdated company.
10. Provide a fun, employee-centred workplace
Offices aren’t picnic spots and cubicles aren’t playgrounds. Having said that, boring isn’t something millennials are comfortable with. The moment they are bored; they would use their digital dependence to click their way out of your company to others. Hence, it is important you keep them engaged. If they don’t interact with their office colleagues and go out with them, laugh with them, it’s definitely a red flag for you. Have more team-building activities, occasional games hour or even a picnic once a while to make them feel comfortable. This would also help your other long-term employees to know and accommodate millennials in their teams.
In a nutshell
With millennials, think of leading more than managing. The ideal approach would be to have customised strategies for your millennials and avoid stereotyping.
Yellow Spark specialises in developing retention strategies for our clients. To know more, write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer, and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.