Chances are you will work alongside the millennials soon if you already are not. Who are the millennials? Also known as the Generation Y or the Internet Generation, millennials are the cohort that follows the Generation X. According to a study by Goldman Sachs Global Investment Search, they were born between 1980 and the early 2000s.
But why are the millennials important and how are they changing the game? Millennials have arrived and are ready to restyle the economy, compelling companies to rethink into how they manage the changing workforce and do business in the future. Understanding how they think is critical to your business as today they make up the most important demographic. The eldest millennials are working now and by 2025, they will make up 75% of the global workforce. The first cohort are in their early thirties and most members of this group have just on-boarded their careers, and so they will be an important part of the business scene in future.
Some think of the millennials as being lazy, narcissistic, and entitled. The myths which surround them need to be broken to fully understand their behavior and potential. According to a report by the Career Advisory Board, 2011, “the oldest millennials entered the workplace in the early 2000s and were brazen in demanding flexibility, seamless communication and desirable assignments right away.” The reality is that they are most flexible, hard-working, tech-savvy, confident, collaborative, creative, motivated, entrepreneurial, and socially tolerant. The traits that makes them particularly interesting are that most millennials want to do meaningful work and wish to make a difference. They look for organizations to be profitable to society, not just do business to earn profit.
So what kind of corporate culture do you need to create to tap into the skills of the new digital natives and make them engage and stick? Every generation is shaped by the conditions they grew up in, so managers familiar with their methods to engage baby boomers will have to change their practices to engage this cohort. It is better to sooner shed the negativity surrounding the myths around the millennials and focus on creating a culture for them.
The following traits attract a millennial:
Communicate to the millennials how they fit into the company’s big picture. It is important for millennials to see employers as having a strong mission and purpose so that they themselves can align their goals to the company’s mission. The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2015 found out that 77% of the connected millennials chose to work for their employers because of the company’s sense of purpose. A surefire way of keeping them motivated is creating cascading goals that reach each employee so that they see how they make an impact.
Millennials also want to work for companies that make an impact in the environment, so embedding some kind of community service to your company’s purpose also attracts them.
Millennials want to learn from their employees, as well as bring innovative ideas and value to the workplace. They want more development, opportunity, and autonomy as well as do meaningful work. Provide them the room to grow and let their innovative ideas take flight — you give them a reason to stay. According to a study by the research and management consulting firm Millennial Branding, 30% of gen Y were motivated to stay with their employers and work harder when there were opportunities for advancement. Advancement includes taking up new projects, taking certifications or working with a mentor.
More than half of the millennials aspire to become leaders, so having a culture that provides opportunities for achievable career progression is a must-have in your organization. In today’s digital age, networking technologies and collaborative platforms allow the voice of workers to be seen and heard by peers and managers, the first step to becoming a leader. Maybe even having something like a “young leaders” program is a great way to hint to millennials that your company acknowledges their potential and is willing to take a step forward to develop their skills.
You need to give millennials the recognition for their work, they no more work just for the money. They no longer desire to be just cogs in the wheel of the daily machinery, they wish to know what impact their work makes. They expect open communication and expect employers to be more transparent about most things, be it compensation, recognition, or how they are changing the business environment. A study by Bersin & Associates (Bersin by Deloitte) shows that companies with modern recognition programs have improved employee engagement and 31% lower turnover rate than competitors.
Millennials get a bad reputation of job-hopping, but with a few strategic changes, it is possible to have smart, engaged future leaders.