Millennials. We all work with a few. And if you don't, you've surely heard plenty about them. The generation, at 75 million strong, is the largest age grouping in U.S. history. This group has captured much attention of late because it's a force to be reckoned with, impacting popular culture and nearly every consumer industry. It's time to consider making modifications to your organization's culture and offerings because at more than one-third of the U.S. workforce, our Millennial friends are here to stay.
Millennials tend to get a bad rap, yet the popular belief is that they've also got quite a bit to offer. That mixed sentiment is clearly summed up in an early Time Magazine article, Millennials: The Me, Me, Me Generation. Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents. Why they'll save us all. As with any demographic grouping, we cannot assume that these characteristics or preferences apply to all Millennials; remember, you know your employees best. If you'd like to take a closer look at the feedback from this, or any other demographic group within your organization, an employee engagement survey can provide you with valuable insight.
Why are Millennials and their characteristics noteworthy to you, the employer? According to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2018, 44% of Millennials say, if given the choice, they expect to leave their current employers in the next two years. That level of turnover is extremely costly and can be avoided. Let's take a closer look at the defining characteristics and strengths of this massive demographic group, and the corresponding must-haves to create a working environment in which they'll thrive and remain engaged.
1. Social outlets
Millennials are ultra-connected, having easy access to people, knowledge, and opportunities through social media and other sites and apps. What's the downside of this hyper-connectivity? It is their ability to network right out of your organization and to another if they disengage. Millennials are interested in establishing genuine relationships with their colleagues. Team projects, team-building activities, technology to stay connected, and an environment geared toward social interaction and collaboration can help this group stay engaged and satisfied in the workplace. Encouraging social groups and clubs based on similar interests will also allow employees to bond with one another, beyond the confines of regular work activities.
2. [Structured] Work-life balance
Millennials tend to place a high value on experiences and "living your best life." According to Comparably, older millennials in particular, (aged 30-35) said work-life balance is most important to them. Translated to the workplace, this can mean a disinterest in the confinement of sitting in a cubicle for 40+ hours a week. Create seating areas where employees can gather to work together, or, conversely, get away from their desks to work alone. Encourage physical activity and wellness by allowing employees to incorporate exercise into the workday. Another way to promote work-life balance is to offer more paid time off and allow flexible working hours. Agreeing to a defined, yet alternative work situation with your employees on a case-by-case basis can encourage a sense of freedom, without eliminating all boundaries.
3. Open flow of feedback
Offering more feedback, more regularly, can benefit everyone within the organization. Millennials are accustomed to near-instant feedback in the digital space and on social platforms. Encourage managers (and groups, even) to review work and provide constructive criticism on a project basis versus waiting for an annual or quarterly review. This will allow the team member to understand whether they are hitting the mark or not in the eyes of their supervisor in time to make adjustments as needed. It can also establish a bond and understanding between employee and supervisor that may not be fostered if the flow of feedback is not as transparent and accepted. Feedback should flow both ways, allowing the employee to voice his or her opinion of the manager and company as well.
4. Next-level multitasking
The term "multitask" was actually first used by IBM to describe the ability of a computer, not a human, to engage in multiple functions simultaneously. Now, it's becoming a defining trait of the Millennial generation, having grown up with technology ingrained in everyday life and activities. This poses a unique challenge for employers: how to leverage multitasking as a strength rather than allow it to hurt productivity and focus. Employers can assist their multitasking Millennials by providing technology that allows them to do many tasks at once. One simple aide is the use of multiple computer monitors at the employee's workstation. Task and project management software can also help to reign in and organize workloads. Counteract multitasking overload by training Millennial employees to focus on one assignment at time. Allow them adequate time needed to tap back into original and creative ways of thinking and problem solving.
5. Caring for the Environment
Creating programs that encourage recycling and reusing will satisfy this Earth-conscious crowd. In addition to methods of disposal for regular trash, research creative ways to reuse other kinds of waste in the workplace. HealthyHandyman offers some interesting uses for excess wood chips, for example.