The following is a guest blog post by Jonathan Stewart who is recent college graduate, millennial, and aspiring author.
Before the robots devour civilization from the inside out and hook us all up to a virtual reality utopia, the millennials are going to make their mark on business.
In fact, by 2030, millennials (that’s people currently aged between 18 and 31) will make up 75% of the workforce. The surge of young workers has thrown the world of business into something of a panic – millennials, or Generation Y, have become notorious for being difficult to manage and hard to please thanks to a wealth of articles written by older executives. You’ll probably have seen some of these articles – they say millennials are spoiled, they want to get paid for doing nothing, they’ve got no idea where they’re going – so they hop listlessly from job to job in pursuit of something they’ll never find.
More recent research has shown that there’s actually very little difference between Gen Y workers and their predecessors, but there are a few trends that seem to ring true.
1 – Treat them Like Family
Millennials value building strong interpersonal relationships, so it’s sensible to find ways to dismantle the traditional barriers, which will create the opportunities employees need to make connections that are meaningful. You can reduce distance between millennials and their coworkers socially (one-on-one socialising or team building events) and physically (moving from cubicles to an open plan office).
2 – Embrace Technology
We were the first generation to experience a wireless world, and we enter the world of work as digital natives, expecting the “technologies that empower our personal lives to also drive communication and innovation in the workplace,” according to this PwC report.
So, what does that mean in practical terms? Millennials expect to use social networking, instant messaging, wikis, blogs and video-on-demand in the workplace – so make sure there are alternatives to telephone and email on offer. Tools like Yammer, Jive, Chatter and Slack are all doing a great job of helping people exchange their ideas in open forums – so they can collaborate with ease. And when people collaborate, innovation tends to be a natural by-product.
3 – Give Encouragement and Regular Feedback
There’s an assumption that millennials lack accountability due to their need for autonomy and freedom – but they’re not mutually exclusive! In order for millennials to develop properly, they’ll need to know how they are performing – so don’t be afraid to evaluate and hold them accountable for their ideas. If you’re managing a millennial, you’ll need to provide positive and negative feedback as they mature. Don’t feel you need to sugar coat things, but (as always when giving feedback) make sure you’re being constructive. If you can reassure them that they’re valued and trusted, but give them a steer in the correct direction, you’re likely to get extremely good results.
4 – Flexibility is King
You don’t need to give your millennial free reign to wander into the office at whatever time they feel like it, or work remotely every day – but you could relax your hold on the traditional working day a little. If they need to be able to leave early because they have a nightmare of a commute, or if their life schedule makes it easier for them to work evenings rather than mornings, why not let them start a little later? If it doesn’t interfere with their performance, what’s the harm in giving them a little freedom? Especially when you’ll be benefitting from a happier, and more engaged employee.
5 – Talk to the Experts
There’s nothing wrong with talking to somebody who knows their stuff when it comes to getting to grips with the new workforce. There are plenty of people out there who’ve dedicated their careers to learning about Millennials, and they have a lot of in-depth information that they’re happy to share. You can find plenty of information about Millennials online, or if you learn better from human beings, there are plenty of keynote speakers who have some interesting things to share.
Jonathan Stewart is a recent graduate who likes to play with words. You can see more of his work here: www.clippings.me/jftstewart
Photo by ITU Pictures