After watching an inspiring video, I wanted to share some wider thinking, around how we as managers can support the growing number of millennials in our workplaces.
Over the next 7 years, “millennials” will make up three-quarters of employees. And this generation, don’t respond too well to current management approaches. So to ensure you know how to manage younger people as they start to make their way in your organisation, here is some advice.
1. Support learning and development
Millennials like things to be exciting and constantly changing. After years’ of exposure to video games and social media, they thrive on short-term goals which deliver visible results. Social media enables younger people to be in contact with and learn from interesting people, so encourage them to interact with other professionals and teams.
Keep their attention by giving them new and different projects. Give them as wide a range of experience as possible; invite them to join a management committee or to attend an informal event with top executives.
2. Encourage flexible working
This generation grew up doing their homework while listening to music and checking Facebook. Some sat in lessons and tweeted. So don’t expect the same division between home and work, as you may get from the older generation.
Accept that they will work from home outside office hours – and they may also not want to take part in working late into the night in the office. Try to enable flexible working – they won’t work at their best tied to a 9 to 5 routine.
3. Don’t overestimate money as a motivator
Money isn’t millennials’ main motivation. See if you can make their compensation as mixed as possible to let them “customise” their how they get compensated: think about time off, working remotely, discounts, away days, exposure to more senior work, and discounts… But this doesn’t mean you can pay them less.
4. Keep talking to them
Unlike many of their parent’s generations, millennials don’t fear change. So they will look for development opportunities, both inside and outside your organisation. And they won’t be afraid to leave if they don’t like what you’re offering them – or if they see something better elsewhere. They also like a lot of attention, so the traditional annual appraisal won’t be enough for them. This generation really means frequent conversations or one to ones, which focus not only on the job in hand but also contain career conversations.
5. Rely on relationship, not power
Millennials aren’t overly impressed by hierarchy or authority: what they tend to respect is expertise and approachability. You’ll get more from a millennial if you take time to build a relationship with them, and they will respect managers more who are open, who spend time asking them questions, and who share their expertise with them.
The plus side is that millennials like to promote themselves, and, by extension, the organisations they are engaged with. So use that sense of relationship with their employer to turn them into brand ambassadors by including them in employer branding activities or internal focus groups, taking them to job fairs, or making them spokespersons for the company on social media.
6. Create a strong company culture
These are employees who are likely to be drawn to companies which have a strong culture, and where their employer’s values are visible and in line with their own ideals. Millennials are motivated by feeling that their work is worthwhile and has meaning; they are motivated by being part of something important that positively affects their environment. But given that they can’t all be employed by Google or Friends of the Earth, make sure that your company culture is clearly defined and taken seriously by everyone in your organisation. Millennials are unlikely to stick around and simply become jaded and sceptical, if your culture is just words on a page.