ETS is giving you insight into the largest generation in the workforce with our three part blog series, Generation “Why?”. Throughout the series ETS will provide information on Millennials including who they are and what they want in a job and in their careers. We’ll discuss why they want what they want and highlight some of the disconnects between them and older generations. We will also offer a blueprint of solutions to successfully work with this unique and vital generation. In this third and final installment, we’ll take a look at how employers can make changes to become a magnet for attracting and retaining this new generation of workers.
It is a settled matter that Millennials really are different than the generations that came before them. And these differences can be magnified in the workplace. Defined by their lack of attachment to institutions and traditions, millennials change jobs more often than other generations ― more than half say they’re currently looking for a new job. Because the strength of the workplace and marketplace depend on what the millennial generation can accomplish. If millennials cannot find good jobs, the economy will continue to lag. If they are not engaged in those jobs, companies’ profitability, productivity and innovation will suffer. And if they are not thriving in their well-being, they will struggle in life, affecting how they perform as citizens, consumers and employees. How can you attract and retain this generation and reach your goals as a company?
- It’s Not Them, It’s You
Businesses that want to stay ahead of the game with respect to Gen Y need to look inward for solutions. While it may feel good to blame the new generation for their lack of a work ethic or their use of cell phones, it’s not productive. Millennials are changing the very will of the world and businesses must change too. Organizational cultures that embrace a shift from “old convictions” to “new convictions” will go much further in relating to Millennials than organizations who refuse to change. Here is a simple chart from Gallup to help organizations visualize the changes that need to take place.
- Generation “Why” Am I Working Here?
Millennials care less about the actual paycheck and more about the purpose of the work. This means businesses should be thinking about their Mission and Vision Statements and communicating it far and wide.Does everyone in your company (including contract labor) know the mission statement? What are employees working towards?
- Action Item: Articulate the meaning behind the work being done, not just the tasks at hand. Millennials want to visualize the bigger picture, then they can get down to work knowing that their work will have purpose and value in the end.
- Rethink the word “Manage”
Millennials like real-time recognition and guidance. Yearly reviews don’t cut it with this Generation. Feedback that stresses how each team member contributes to the overall success, and praising individual efforts rather than team accomplishments or managers only are much more effective. While Gen Xers tend to think “no news is good news”, Millennials think of feedback as getting a tip or coaching and they want it multiple times per day.
- Action Item: Institute more frequent touchpoints that are much shorter in duration and focused on empowering workers and explaining to them why they should care. Focus more on strengths, less on weaknesses.
- Engage – Listen
No one wants to feel like a cog in a wheel. Everyone wants to feel they have something unique to offer. Sometimes organizations think that the only good ideas come from the top but that is an old way to think. Define a process by which you can uncover the team’s best thinking and make better decisions accordingly. Make this effort easier and more efficient with the right tools. *Speak Up is an online solution for structured collaboration.
- Action Item: Ask for input. Create a work environment that makes it safe for people to speak up and offer solutions and ideas. Engage your employees and hear them out.
- Clear Path for Professional Development
Millennials are lifelong learners. They want to know they are on the right path and they want to keep learning from those that have come before them. Contrary to popular belief, Millennials don’t want free food and pingpong tables for job satisfaction. They want direct communication of career advancement opportunities within the organization and professional development. Potential paths should not be shrouded in mystery.
- Action Item: Provide plenty of training and stretch assignments and consistent coaching and benchmarks. Provide transparent paths for career advancement that are not shrouded in mystery.
Other Solution Options
- Embrace Collaboration
Traditional corporate structures tend to focus on individual accomplishment and evaluation. We’ve lost the focus on the fact that collaboration may get the task done smarter and faster than if done by individuals.
- Let them Lead a meeting
Drop the mindset that an employee needs to put in a certain amount of time or tenure to take a leading role on a project or strategy. Millennials bring a lot to the table. Give them a chance to pitch a new idea and get feedback by letting them lead a meeting.
- Set up a mentoring program
- Set up a REVERSE mentoring program
Give millennials a chance to play the role of mentor to boomer or GenX managers. Gather their perspective on a variety of business ideas, including how to reach and manage millennials
- Consider altering the standard HR approach of screening out job hoppers
Instead, look for candidates that have made calculated decisions for changing positions (i.e. more impact, satisfaction, growth) vs. candidates who job hop for minimal monetary increases. You’ll soon have a very small candidate pool if this standard model isn’t changed
- Consider Flexibility
- Where They Work
- When they Work
- What They Do
- Tools They Use
- Day to day Environment
Unfortunately, Millennial workers have gotten a bad rap. The stereotype that Millennials prefer digital lives, or that they expect their employer to provide everything for them, are among the more prevalent. Millennial workers are often said to be less committed to their work, a key myth that can lead to management clashes. These stereotypes are false. Though Millennials approach work differently than other generations, they are no less committed to getting the job done, and do not expect everything handed to them by employers.
When in doubt, keep in mind these things:
- Lead, not manage.
- Pay attention to, and care about, the individual.
- Foster a sense of belonging to a team doing something great.
- Create a sense of purpose that will better society.
- Be sincere about adding genuine meaning to life.
Millennials are positive-thinking with an entrepreneurial and hard-working spirit who want their lives to matter, believing they can change the world. They are a fantastic addition to your team, and, perhaps more importantly, a huge workforce that you will continue to rely on heavily in the future. “They have a lot to learn” is a typical mantra. But it behooves all of us to realize that these innovators have a lot to TEACH.
Looking to hire Millennial talent? Contact ETS today to speak with a recruiter at 518-562-4673.