Over the last decade, an abundance of stereotypes have been brought up about Millennials. This generation is said to be entitled, stubborn, and non-committal. However, when we take a look at the facts, this negative picture about Millennials in the workplace can be easily changed. For that reason, the Fellow team has created a comprehensive guide to working with Millennials and scrapping our preconceptions of them.
Who are Millennials?
According to the Pew Research Centre and their recent article which illustrates where Millennials end and Generation Z begins:
“Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 is considered a Millennial, and anyone born from 1997 onward is part of a new generation.”
Your employees that are born in 1980 and before are classified as Boomers (1965-1980) and any employees that are born after 1996 are considered to be a part of Generation X (1997- 2012).
What is the Big Deal with Working with Millennials?
Now for the loaded question: What is the big deal with working with Millennials? Answer: There isn’t one! The reason why Millennials might seem like a challenging generation to work with is because they go against the office “norm”.
Because the value system of Millennials is very different from their proceeding Boomers, business leaders have developed somewhat of a negative bias concerning this generations’ work ethic. It seems businesses are finding it difficult to give Millennials more responsibility in their roles on the basis of falsehoods. Because of that, they’re not taking advantage of the impressive talent that Millennials offer.
Where prior generations may have favoured structure and rigidity, this generation prefers using their creativity and innovation to drive results. It takes some getting used to but seeing as Millennials have become the largest generation in the workforce, organizations need to find a way to update and innovate their management approach.
Before going through the 6 best practices to effectively manage Millennials, let’s talk about the benefits of working with this generation:
The Benefits of Working with Millennials
1 Millennials’ Electronic Literacy
It’s no secret that Millennials are highly adept with technology. As a manager, you can definitely use this to your advantage. Because living online is second-nature to this generation and the internet is an everyday part of their lives, they are quick learners and strong communicators (especially for those working remotely). This value of electronic literacy among Millennials is clearly highlighted in a recent blog post from The Balance Careers:
“Millennials are the first generation to embrace and take advantage of technology that connects people electronically. This experience and knowledge can help expand communication both internally and externally for your firm.”
Moreover, this electronic communication is so familiar to this generation that there is absolutely no learning-curve to climb. Consider harnessing the talent your Millennials have in electronic and digital literacy. They might even be able to teach you a thing or two to get the job done more efficiently!
2 Diversity and Flexibility
Millennials are known for their diverse skill set and the ability to learn new concepts quickly. This generation is notorious for prioritizing jobs where they can learn from a diverse group of people, and acquire new skills and competencies. Because of this, you need to provide diversity and flexibility as much as possible and use their versatility to your advantage.
According to a survey by Deloitte, more than 40% of millennials expect to leave their jobs within two years and less than 30% want to be in the same job for more than five years. This survey also noted that Millennials value and are most willing to stay with organizations that have diverse management teams and enable flexible work environments.
3 Millennials are Results Driven
Millennials don’t value structure or rigid processes. Instead, they’re known for using creativity to drive excellent end results. They’re not so concerned with how to get there, so long as they arrive in the end. In a blog post about Managing Millennials, Susan Heathfield reiterates this idea:
“While older generations value things like fixed work schedules and dress codes, millennials are more focused on end results. This means it’s important to relax the rules a bit.”
If you’re happy with the final product of your employees, ask yourself, is it worth enforcing strict processes to get there?
4 Millennials Place High Value on Company Culture
Millennials place a huge value on company culture. But what kinds of company culture do Millennials want? To name a few, this generation places a huge interest in working for companies that have a strong corporate social responsibility and a positive remote culture. If you can incorporate social and environmental concerns into your business operations, you may have higher chances of attracting and retaining Millennial talent. This generation also values diversity and inclusion, a work-life balance, ongoing feedback and opportunities for growth.
6 Tips on How to Work Effectively with Millennials
1 Get them Involved
The best advice we can give to managers is to ask your employees for their opinion. This is going to encourage critical-thinking and show your direct reports that you value their insights and want them to be heard. Our next advice to involve your Millennial employees is to tell them “why”. Why something must be done a certain way, why something must be completed quickly, why it is relevant, why it is assigned to them. In a recent article for the Muse, VP of People & Culture at BetterCloud, Emily Disston explains:
“Often, the best approach is to contextualize your decisions—for all of your employees. For starters, you never know when they might have good suggestions or input. Moreover, clueing your employees into your decision-making will help them think through their own contributions and projects in light of the company’s bigger picture.”
2 Allow Flexibility in How they Work
Millennials place a lot of importance on their overall experience at work. As a manager working with Millennials, it is hugely important to provide in-house growth opportunities and focus more on the results than the means of getting there. In an article about flexible working, Joy Bunford highlights that 92% of Millennials identify flexibility as a top priority when job hunting, and 70% of UK employees feel that flexible working makes a job more attractive to them.
But what does “flexible working” mean?
“Flexibility is the umbrella term used to describe any role that breaks the traditional norm of a rigid 9-to-5, five-day week structure. At its core stand individuals with potentially greater freedom over when, where or how to fulfill their particular roles,” says Bunford.
This depicts the importance of giving this generation the appropriate tools and resources to get the job done, as well as flexibility to decide when and where they want to work.
3 Encourage Face-to-Face Interactions (even if by video)
Because technology is interconnected with our work and our lives, organizations have fallen farther and farther away from interacting face-to-face. Even as many of us work from home, we manage to opt-out of a video call with our direct-reports when things can easily be communicated through instant chat or email. Lead by example with the importance you place on face-to-face communication whenever it is possible. Promoting and encouraging this human connection is going to improve your relationship with your team and between other employees as well. Consider scheduling an informal company social (even if it’s via Zoom or Skype) to solidify your communication and relationships with your group.
4 Let them Experiment and Try New Initiatives
As an innovative leader, find ways for your employees to try different jobs, to develop new skills and competencies. Even better, allow for the opportunity for your Millennial workforce to acquire skills that are outside of their job description or their team. If you are able to identify several different avenues for growth and development within your organization, you are much more likely to draw and retain Millennial talent. If your employees can learn, grow and explore new opportunities within the company, they might actually stay longer than spending a few years with you to get their feet wet before their next endeavour.
5 Give and ask for Feedback
As a leader, you already know how important it is to both give and receive feedback. By promoting a culture that incorporates feedback into your model of work and productivity, you are simultaneously improving communications and therefore, collaborating to work more effectively with your Millennial employees. Lead by example and drive the suggestions that you are offered into action, based on the feedback you ask for. Finally, encourage employees to give feedback to their colleagues and show them that constructive criticism is an important part of growth.
Fellow facilitates communication and feedback across teams
Ask for feedback about performance, meetings, or recent work. Fellow helps your team give and get feedback as work happens.
6 Encourage Remote Work
The truth is: If you don’t allow your Millennial talent to work remotely, someone else will. Because we live in a tech-driven world, it is (almost always) possible to work wherever an internet connection exists. If remote work is compatible with their responsibilities, many Millennial employees prefer to have the option to work for companies that allow telecommuting.
“Many millennials believe they should have the option to work remotely on occasion or even exclusively as long as they are getting their work done. Be flexible in this regard, and you’ll have more success attracting and retaining members of this generation,” says Susan Heathfield.
Why Working with Millennials is a Positive Idea
With Millennial talent in your workforce, you are benefiting greatly from their electronic literacy, their diversity and flexibility in the job, the fact that they are results-driven and that they highly value company culture and want to be a part of something meaningful. If you want to work effectively with your Millennial employees, get them involved! Allow flexibility in the way that they work, encourage face-to-face interactions, let them try new things, focus on feedback and encourage remote work. With these practices in place, you will thrive working with this ambitious and innovative generation.