Managing Millennials Means Doing Things Differently
Millennials, the employees of the future… ten years ago. Now, they account for around 34 percent of the current workforce. It’s predicted that by 2025, they will total around 75 percent of the workforce. Therefore, it’s crucial for your business to understand what make millennials different than the people that currently make up most of today’s workforce.
As a business owner, it’s crucial to your organization's success to adapt to shifts in your industry. One of the largest changes that you’ll encounter comes from your workforce. Therefore, it should be understood why the millennial generation has turned out the way it has. It comes down to differences in a culture associated with the integration of new technologies, like mobile devices, into everyday society. In contrast to the GenXers and Baby Boomers, who work for the sake of working and necessity, millennials tend to have a unique set of expectations when they enter the workforce. CIO.com recommends that companies give millennials the space and freedom they need so they can work in ways that best augment their values.
To help you manage millennials, here are a few things that you may have to do differently:
- Be sure to ask them about their personal lives.
- Provide encouragement and praise (if they are deserving of it, of course).
- Be willing to listen to their creative ideas.
- Let them make big, important decisions early on.
Is this too much to ask of the current generation? Should millennials be given special treatment, or should they be expected to “tough it out” and adopt the standards and expectations of the more seasoned generations? Let’s take a more in-depth look at the values of millennials and find out. You might find that some of the demands made by millennials no longer apply to just them, and that everyone can benefit from a more personal touch to the workplace.
Millennials Take the Office Setup Seriously
The lifestyle that fueled the development of the millennial is taking over the workplace. No longer are offices gray and dull. Instead, they’re now more vibrant and lively, which has both pros and cons. Pros: these new developments in the workplace will make people want to come to work. Not just the millennials, either. A more vibrant workplace may even get your senior staff members to show a little more enthusiasm for a job they’ve been routinely performing for years.
Leading the trend for designing millennial-friendly workplaces are tech companies in California’s Silicon Valley, an industry that’s known for hiring young talent. These offices are colorful and innovative. They foster imagination and creativity in the workplace, and millennials love it. For your own office, try new light designs in the common areas and break rooms. Fun and new office designs will lighten up your workplace significantly and make work more enjoyable for everyone.
Technological Freedom is a Must
One of the biggest things you can offer your millennial employees is the freedom to use social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. These sites are blocked on some company’s computers due to the possibility that it might distract their employees. Concerning millennials, they’ve grown up using mobile technology and social media, and have learned to fully integrate it into their daily lives. In fact, according to CIO, depriving millennials of their favorite technology may actually decrease their productivity.
Employees love it when you ask them about their personal lives. “Getting too personal” might have been taboo with previous generations, but in a world where everything is much more personal, employers should be, too. People generally like to know that someone cares about how their day is going, or how their weekend was. This is true for millennials more than any other generation, and they like to think that the office can be professional and laid-back at the same time. They want to be treated like a real person, not “Employee ID: 342” or “resource available from 8 a.m.-to-5 p.m.”.
Feedback is Desired
The same can be said about consistent feedback and response. Daniel Pink, an author on workplace trends and patterns, says, “Consider a typical 28 year-old. From the moment she was born, her world has been rich in feedback. When she presses a button, something happens. When she plays a video game, she gets a score.” See the pattern? Millennials are used to receiving immediate feedback as a result of an action.
If they want to know something, they search for it on Google. If they need to contact someone, they use their cell phone. They want this same immediate feedback from their manager in the form of recognition or encouragement. This can improve both your relations with your younger workers and your overall office image. In fact, everyone can benefit from a little bit of encouragement or recognition now and again; not just the millennials, but even your senior staff members.
Let Them Jump In the Deep End
A great way to help millennials grow in the workplace is to empower them. They don’t want to wait around to get their feet wet. They want to dive right in and take on big projects. Allowing them to do so will help them figure out their work processes for themselves, such as how they’re going to research the topic and make difficult decisions. They will see for themselves the results of their actions, and increased responsibility will help them to alter their approach based on the feedback given to them.
Controversy About Millennialistic Attitude
Some managers might not be so willing to make special accommodations for these people. Some people might even consider attitudes characteristic of millennials to be unhealthy for the workforce, deeming millennials to be “spoiled rotten” and “difficult to work with.”
Perhaps, if there’s a problem working with millennials in your workplace, there’s a problem with the way management is approaching them. According to a similar study from Inc., it is the manager’s responsibility to help their staff grow and become better employees. Instead of resigning yourself to the fact that these young people are “impossible to work with,” so to speak, try and understand that it is their youthful disposition and the changing of times that makes these differences seem like a big deal, when in fact, it isn’t. In the words of Greek philosopher Socrates, according to Plato:
The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.
Take a moment to realize that, with every young generation, it is their youth, and the influences from the generation they were raised by and grew up around, that makes them the way they are. Remember what it was like to be young yourself and entering the workforce for the first time. How did the previous generations view your generation? Taking a nostalgic trip down memory lane like this may prove enlightening.
Marketing to Millennials
In addition to being mindful of how you treat and interact with millennials in your office, you will need to make adjustments to your company’s marketing strategies that will accommodate the needs and values of this younger generation. After all, if millennials are poised to make up 75 percent of the workforce, then they’re destined to be in control of company budgets and spending decisions. If your company’s marketing strategies don’t change with the times, then you won’t reach millennials, and your competition will.