With experts predicting that Millennials will make up nearly half of the American workforce in a few short years, Employers are banging their heads against the wall looking for new and effective tactics to engage and retain a notoriously uncompromising group of employees. Millennials are a very different generation than their predecessors and previous employee engagement initiatives are no longer viable.
Leaders cannot keep Millennials away from the general workplace population – positioned behind closed doors and large computer monitors. The digitization of almost every sector of business is unavoidable and our Speaker & Generational Expert Cam Marston points out that because of technology, for the first time in history the youth hold the keys to the functioning of modern business – striking panic into the hearts of organizations across the country. However, to engage (and consequently retain) them you have to challenge them – Managing Social Media and Webservers will simply not suffice for this energetic and ambitious generation. Millennials can (and demand to) do more.
Here are 4 approaches to engage Millennials in the workplace and how to use their specific talents to your advantage:
Millennials are amazing researchers. They live in the Information Age and can access and gather useful data with astounding speed. They also know which sources are credible and which are not – Millennials know not to cite Wikipedia or The Onion. Explain to them that their role is a key component to the foundation of a particular project and keep them in the loop as the project progresses – regardless of whether their skills are needed beyond the initial phase. Seeing how their efforts contributed to the overall project will make them feel like a valued member of the team.
Despite common perceptions, collaboration and teamwork is not a foreign concept to Millennials – in fact their education was largely built around group assignments – therefore they have the understanding and experience but may lack the finesse for workplace interactions. Exposing them to the particulars of workplace collaboration with multigenerational team members fosters a sense of inclusiveness and camaraderie. Furthermore, our Speaker David Stillman advocates for frequent multi-generational collaborative work as a means to give the younger generations a chance to learn from the Traditionalists and Boomers before they leave the workforce.
Millennials have been labelled as “needy” because of their desire to be constantly evaluated (i.e. praised). This desire may be the residual effects from their education – remember Millennials have not been out of the post-secondary “bubble” for long. Giving feedback often will pacify this need and demonstrate that the organization has taken an interest in them. Our Speaker Lynne Lancaster explains that feedback will also give Management frequent opportunities to address problematic behaviors in an appropriate setting. When giving Millennials feedback be sure to always begin with something positive before addressing the areas where improvement is needed.
Non-Millennials often refer to “bracing” for Change as though it was a tidal wave about to crash down on them. Change for Millennials does not cause trepidation, but rather excites and drives them. Assign Millennials to a project or taskforce that negotiates the ways in which transition and transformation will be approached within the organization. Their enthusiasm will be infectious and covert negative attitudes towards Change into positives ones.