At this point we have all heard the descriptions – both for better or worse – given to millennial employees. We know they’re tech savvy and can use computers to solve problems in six different ways. But they have been called needy and difficult to motivate in office environments. They’ve also been noted as being driven by meaning over money and as exceptional team players.
The difficulty comes with how to manage them effectively. In 2014, millennials will made up 36 percent of the workforce – a number that is expected to continue to grow as the young sector of the generation graduates from high school and college. But they are also some of the most difficult employees to keep around; young adults in general tend to bounce from job to job more frequently than middle aged employees.
Blame it on a constant desire for change, but it is more likely that they just didn’t like the culture of the workplace, or they felt that they were moving on to something better. As a manager, how can you ensure that they are happy and more likely to stick around?
The Social Employee
Millennials love to utilize their tech skills and communicate, so why not take advantage of these traits? We have entered the age of the social employee. Social employees are those that can use technology, specifically social media, to promote the company alongside traditional marketing efforts – a task millennials seem to be built for.
Word of mouth comments or recommendations are the most powerful means of building trust and selling products. By encouraging all employees to use social media for the company’s benefits, you are profoundly increasing the number of potential customers reached by friend recommendations. Millennials have the technological experience to work on these types of projects, and will likely enjoy it much more than other employees.
Focus on the Positives
Although this can probably be said for most employees, it is especially true with millennials: focus on the positive things they do rather than only on the ways in which they need to be better. Over 61 percent of the most productive employees surveyed said that their supervisors focused on their positive strengths rather than the one percent of actively disengaged employees. Furthermore, companies that readily discuss employee successes every day have reported over 13 percent more productivity.
Millennials are especially responsive to positive praise, they love to know when they are doing well. If they do need improvement perhaps the best way to address it is through the ‘sandwich method’ or by sandwiching an area that needs improvement between two areas in which they are excelling. When addressing improvement areas be sure to clearly describe what they need to change and exactly how they can accomplish that.
In survey after survey, millennials have stated that one of the most important factors for them in the workplace is that their job provides some sort of value. For this generation, it isn’t so much about the money. In fact, most college students were willing to take a seven percent pay decrease in order to feel good about the type of work they are doing and work for a company that shared their values.
There are groups of people who believe that millennials are lazier than any previous generation. But millennials truly enjoy giving back and having experiences more than things. They are more likely to participate in community service than any generation before them. At the company, this fact can be put to good use – provide opportunities for them to be involved in the community, and rather than a raise ask them if they have ideas for alternatives that would benefit all employees.
Preparing for an increase in the number of millennial employees in your workplace is essential. Managers that are able to rise to meet the needs of this young generation are likely to experience greater productivity from employees and less turnover. Giving millennials the opportunity to be social, focusing on the positives, and providing meaning in the workplace is a great step in the right direction.