Millennials will soon become the largest generation in your business, making up half of the global workforce by 2020. Expanding on Unleash a Millennial in your Business… It May Just Be the Best Thing You Ever Do, it is often said that Millennials do not respond well to being managed in the traditional management model that businesses are accustomed to. By embracing new management techniques and initiatives, you will help your business successfully attract, manage, develop and retain this generation.
The good news is that you don’t have to completely reinvent your business to make it work for millennial employees. Some of the smallest offerings have the biggest impact with millennials:
- Build a strong mission and values system Millennials are not only concerned about a professional career, they want to make an impact and they want to find a company that will help them to do so. They have come of age in pretty unsettling times and many feel personally responsible for making a difference. ‘Doing good’ is vitally important to them and they define success through meaningful work. Virgin Pulse reported that 73% of Millennials think it’s important for their company to stand behind their mission and values. They are attracted to companies whose leadership teams can communicate a purposeful vision for the organisation. Through this, Millennials are redefining leadership by holding leaders accountable for behaving ethically and upholding the expectations of the company’s mission and values.
- Collaborate Shift your business from a ‘Me’ to a ‘We’ culture. Millennials work better in teams, with 88% of them preferring collaborative work environments over competitive ones. Establish a sense of inclusiveness regardless of title, seniority, or geographic location. RetailMeNot Inc. invite their millennial employees to participate in making hiring decisions, which not only helps them to be involved in shaping the business, but gets them excited about future talent. Millennials want to be involved in constructive conversations that are typically limited to leadership teams. Give them the opportunity to weigh in on important issues and strategic decisions. Make it safe to ask and explore ‘why?’. Millennials need to understand the context behind key outcomes and the reason action is being taken so they can see how their contributions fit into the bigger picture. They are the future leaders of your organisation, so why not take the time to engage with them now?
- Open and frequent lines of communication Encouraging transparency throughout your organisation will not only help Millennials thrive, it will benefit all generations in your workforce. What direction is the company heading in? Where do you see growth opportunities? How does the company make money? What do you think we could do differently? The more real-time information you provide to Millennials, the more capability you are giving them to perform well in their jobs and the more loyal they will become. This doesn’t need to be overcomplicated. At Coriolis we utilise our internal Yammer network for posting short messages to keep in touch and for knowledge sharing and gathering, and circulate one-page monthly updates to keep everyone in the loop about what is happening across the business.
- Listen to Ideas Millennials are not afraid to question the status quo and are FULL of ideas that may seem completely unconventional. An idea is a commodity that few businesses capitalise on – Kickstarter raises over $1.3 million daily from user-posted ideas. How are you capturing your employee’s ideas? LinkedIn launched an internal incubator program that encourages employees to come up with ideas, create teams, and pitch their projects to executive staff. If leadership likes the idea, they give the team three months to dedicate to their ideas and turn them into reality. Are you encouraging your employees to share their ideas?
- Develop a mentoring program It has been found that Millennials will leave a company if they lack close ties with work colleagues and peers. To prevent this, establish a mentoring program that pairs your senior staff with your newest junior staff. Some of the best learning comes from the guidance and knowledge that someone with more experience can provide. Ensure your mentors have regular, authentic, and unique conversations and encourage these to take place out of the office – this makes everybody feel more open and relaxed, encouraging receptivity. You can take this one step further by hosting ‘mixers’ with all mentors and mentees, or by facilitating ‘brown bags’ where Millennials get together informally and give short talks about what they’re working on or the problems they’re trying to solve.
- Clear cut career paths A lack of career opportunity is the number one reason that Millennials leave an organisation. Having grown up managing their personal brands on social media, they have an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to govern their position and career choices. Empower them to achieve more by giving them the tools to build their career plans. Provide visibility as to where the opportunity is in your company and the steps required to get there. This will give them clear expectations to advance their careers and accomplish more at work.
- Embrace Technology As the first digital natives, technology is a part of a Millennial’s DNA. They are used to sharing all aspects of their lives online and will often leverage their social networks to help in their research and decision-making. McKinsey predicts that social media has the potential to save companies $1.3 trillion by improving intra-office collaboration. Do you have a social networking tool in your business? Try Yammer, a leading social networking tool for businesses – the best part is it’s free! Adopt hashtags and promote them for important events in the company. You are guaranteed to see engagement skyrocket.
- Training innovation Growing up in the digital world has shaped a Millennial to be able to search for information and find answers quickly. The pace of traditional learning is too slow for what this generation expects. Use a micro-learning approach that provides daily development opportunities in short bursts. Millennials want to learn by doing, so provide training at the point of need and acquiring new skills will simply become part of doing the job. Ensure your training material is updated continually and make it readily available so it can be accessed at any time. Don’t narrow your focus to only the hard skills required to get the job done, include soft skills such as communication, negotiation, and collaboration. Take training to the next level by starting up an emerging leaders course that focuses on career acceleration or consider implementing a rotational program to develop individuals into cross-functional employees.
- Flexible working hours Millennials place significant importance on their personal growth and well-being, with 41% agreeing that their mental health is more important than their income. The days of working a 9 to 5 office job are numbered. Modern technology has blurred the boundaries between one’s work and personal life as we are increasingly and constantly connected. Employers must assume the responsibility for the social welfare of their employees, so encourage them to switch off from work and take a break. This will prevent burnouts and show an increase in productivity and quality of work. Provide colleagues with the flexibility to leave early or come in late for a personal commitment. It is imperative to retain this generation of workers.
Utilising these tools and initiatives will help to progress your business to effectively manage and retain Millennials. Remember, the key is to advance in moderation while maintaining focus on the road to success. This is an exciting time in business, don’t miss your opportunity to be the company of choice for this high performing generation.
Written by Karen Starr, Coriolis Consulting Pty Ltd
2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey (http://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/millennialsurvey.html)
The Keys to Attracting and Retaining millennial talent (http://alltopstartups.com/2015/11/19/millennial-talent/)
How Millennials are Evolving Today’s Workplace (http://www.virginpulse.com/blog-post/infographic-how-millennials-are-evolving-todays-workplace/)
The Future of Work – A journey to 2022 – PWC (https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/managing-tomorrows-people/future-of-work/assets/pdf/future-of-rork-report-v16-web.pdf)
The Future’s an inside Job – Global Social Intrapreneurship Summit (http://alt.pictures-bmw-stiftung.de/en/info/publications/)
Millennials: Love Them or Let Them Go (http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-employers-wrangle-restless-millennials-1430818203)
Stop Treating Millennial Employees Like Enigmas (http://www.fastcompany.com/3043370/hit-the-ground-running/how-to-stop-treating-your-millennial-employees-like-enigmas)
A Guide to what motivates millennials at work (http://ryan-jenkins.com/2015/05/21/6-millennial-motivators-a-guide-to-what-motivates-millennials-at-work/)