How to manage the Millennial workforce
Millennials comprise a large majority of today’s active workforce. In light of this, however, many employers find it difficult to truly understand how to engage and reap the benefits of a group who bring with them a new set of strengths than the generation before them. Changing or adapting your management style need not involve a complete overhaul of previously learned practices and understanding, but small alterations that demonstrate progression in thinking.
The Millennial workforce value businesses that are built upon a strong workplace culture, recognising the fruitful nature of co-existence, whereby employees’ contributions to the success of the company are considered equally alongside an employer’s dedication to supporting the learning and development of their employees. Moreover, millennials are attracted to businesses that share their successes beyond the internal parameters of the company, to encompass how they can benefit the wider community. With this in mind, hierarchal structures are something that should dissipate in favour of a more flat management structure, which celebrates collaboration and organisational unity.
Starting off small
Show them respect – Akin to other workers from previous generations, millennials want to be treated with fairness, whereby management demonstrate gratitude not on the basis of their position in the company, but on the individual value they bring to the organisation. Millennials want their voices to be heard, they want management to not only hear their ideas but give them merit by implementing those ideas which make business sense.
Positive reinforcement – Millennials join the workforce eager to make a difference and place their mark on the world of business. They prefer not to see limitations as something that holds them back, but as obstacles, they can work hard to overcome. In light of this, managers should not fixate on the negative aspects of things that go wrong, but rather encourage employees to learn from their mistakes, giving them the confidence to manage their own successes and failures.
Face to face communication – Believe it or not, although we may see the millennial generation as tech savvy communicators, much still values good old fashioned physical communication. This is particularly true when it comes to discussing important work-related issues including career progression and problems they are experiencing both in and outside of the workplace.
A love for structure – Another misconception held about millennials is that they detest structure and organisation, but relish a chaotic environment whereby they are free to do what they want when they want. In this instance, millennials are no different to any other generation in that they understand the importance of setting expectations and meeting deadlines, but they enjoy creating their own process, without the need for constant micromanagement.
Give them feedback
How, why and when are the words that millennials use most often in the workplace. It is no longer enough for employers to simply assign their employees tasks to complete with very little Intel as to what it means in the grand scheme of things. Millennials are not content with having work to fill their day, they like to know why they are being given a task and how it will contribute to the overall aims of the business.
Millennials want to engage in meaningful work that not only supports the organisation itself, but also their own learning and development. In short they want to make a difference. In this context, millennials require more frequent feedback, not just at the end of a process, but throughout the key phases of a project. As digital natives, feedback for most millennials occurs in real time. This includes asking questions or receiving advice via phone, messaging systems or social media platforms.
Despite the fact that millennials like to take charge of projects by putting their own mark on them, feedback is pivotal in helping them determine when they are doing a good job and when improvements need to be made. From praise to constructive pointers, feedback should focus on inspiring and motivating millennials, adopting the role of a mentor and not a conductor.
For millennials, life and work should not a follow a cyclic and mundane pattern similar to that groundhogs day, but rather it should present challenges and keep them on their toes. A standard 9-5 might seem appealing to most, but millennials crave something with more flexibility.
Flexibility can mean a number of things to millennials:
Location and hours – Millennials enjoy the opportunity of working outside of the same office environment, whether that includes working from home, the ability to rotate and set their own hours, or the opportunity to work in different company offices.
Tasks and Projects – Whilst employees are assigned a role upon employment, this role shouldn’t remain stagnant. Millennials harbour a wide set of skills, yet not all of them feel as if these skills are used to their full potential. Employers should challenge all employees including millennial workers by exercising their skills in tasks that require various qualities including leadership, communication and strategy.
Workplace culture – Now more than ever, workplace culture plays a huge role in recruiting and retaining employees, particularly millennials. With digital technology opening the doors to how organisations are run, who they are and what they stand for, job-seekers are becoming more selective in choosing companies who align with their own values and beliefs. For this reason, building and maintaining transparency, celebrating diversity and promoting ethical awareness are criteria that often drive millennial satisfaction in the workplace.
Making the most of the millennial workforce will be essential to building a successful business over the years to come. Understanding how best to utilise the skills and knowledge of millennials may seem like an arduous process, but, believe me, taking the time to tap into this talented generation will pay dividends for any business moving forward.