Millennials...those tech savvy, multi-tasking 12 to 30 year olds are 75 million strong and will be 47 percent of the workforce by 2014. They have new ideas about work ethic, their role in the workplace and the chain of command— and that’s a good thing for business! Many come “wired” with technology skills and know how to obtain information quickly via their vast social networks. They want to help you solve problems and improve processes and don’t understand why they are not asked or consulted.
Their ability to understand the intersection of technology and their perceived role as Global Citizens can support your business needs. But there are some elements Millenials need in their environment to be successful that you can provide by investing only a minimal amount of money and time.
As a training and development specialist, my team and I have spent the past five years researching with focus groups, client companies, inside virtual classrooms and studying the impact and needs of Millennials in today’s workplace. As small business owners, we want to infuse you with Millennial optimism. If you understand the great things this group brings, you can quickly reap the benefits of these new hires.
When you provide these four things Millennials want from their workplace, you will be rewarded with engagement, dedication and possibly some innovative ideas:
Millennials have grown up with consistent coaching, encouragement and feedback, so they are accustomed to this process and expect it at work. Now, you can get irritated that YOU did not have this option when you began working, but guess what? Society has changed, and so have the rules about the role of technology and the pace and tone of business. When you embrace this concept and provide consistent coaching, you will be rewarded with an employee who is excited, willing to work hard and produce results. Coaching can be as simple as a quick email response, a text back to answer a question or a two-minute conversation.
Working with others comes easily to Millenials when they understand the group’s purpose and what is expected. They are used to working in a collaborative manner and are inclusive and tolerant. Just be clear about deadlines, any business boundaries they need to be aware of, and what needs to occur.
Define consistent assessment criteria. The rubric provides a clear structure and measurement system so you can produce “A,” “B” or “C” work. Many Millenials were educated using these guidelines. They are accustomed to understanding how things will be judged and graded. As they arrive in the workplace, they are looking for the same direction and structure. They want to understand how to get an “A!” When you provide your Millennials the rubric for their job, they will deliver at a much higher level than if left on their own to figure it out.
Just because you may have grown up with the adage “the reason they call it work is because it is work,” doesn’t mean that has to be true all the time. Millennials want to be in an environment that is comfortable, where they are free to contribute without fear of being criticized and where they can offer suggestions and process improvement ideas. (Wouldn’t everyone benefit from this environment?) The fun factor can be as simple as occasionally sponsoring a pizza lunch, a little extra time off for a job well-done and having a meeting devoted to how the team can make work better without spending money. You will be amazed at what they contribute, so try asking.
Also, if you don’t enjoy being called “dude,” coach your Millennial on why that does not work inside your business environment. Have a conversation about work ethic, as Millennials feel misunderstood about this topic. They DO work hard and want to do a great job and make contributions. But they want to know how to work smarter using the amazing array of tech tools at their fingertips, and they want to improve the processes so everyone benefits. Once you view Millennials through a new lens and set aside your own generational perspectives, you will discover a smart, talented, caring generation that will reciprocate in kind and make great contributions to your business.
OPEN Cardmember Diane Spiegel is CEO of The End Result, a training company dedicated to leadership and supervisory education and creator of Sage Leadership Tools, resources to help the multi-generations in today’s workplace communicate more effectively.