There is no denying that millennials are the largest of any other generation. Those born between 1980 and mid-nineties are considered to be millennials and they have been given a pretty bad reputation over the years. They are painted as be disloyal workers with low motivation and enthusiasm, when really you ought to consider them to be the savviest and most diverse group of people the UK has ever known. Their open mindedness should be applauded and the idea that they are entitled isn’t always proven to be true. It is estimated that by 2025 millennials will make up over 75% of the global workforce, with the subsequent Gen Z accounting for over 20%. All in all, this equates to a huge entire workforce population. Businesses now need to learn to adapt to their cultures in order to attract and retain the attention of their millennial employees.
So how do you, as a Business Owner, or Managing Director gain the attention of the millennial workforce? The following ideas might help you to improve their loyalty, enthusiasm and work ethic.
It could be said that previous generations of workers were much more loyal than today’s millennials. They would hold down a job for decades, earning long service awards and never looking elsewhere for better offers. You might say that millennial workers are much more curious, which leads to lower levels of loyalty. When you hire a millennial, how do you know that they are going to stick around for the long haul? As a business owner or manager, you need to learn to adapt your styles to suit the demographic of your workforce. The changes in trends aren’t necessarily negative ones, they are simply different. They still have stand up values, intelligence and worthwhile knowledge to bring to the table, they just need to be nurtured and managed in a different way to Gen X’ers. Your business will only be set to thrive if you can tailor your workplace to meet their needs and align them with your business goals.
There are several misconceptions regarding millennials in the workplace that need to be explored. Whether you have adapted to this way of thinking yourself or you have accepted that this is ‘just how they are,’ further discussions need to be had. Here are some of the most common fallacies surrounding millennial employees right now:
- They have no work ethic
- They don’t want to work hard
- They have no respect for authority
- They don’t want to grow up
All these statements addressing the Millennial generation are complete myths. It isn’t the generation that should be blamed, it is the ‘set in stone’ nature of most company values that needs to change in order to adapt to the change in society. Here is the reality behind these false impressions:
- Millennials do have work ethic, but it could be described as a self-centred one. Most millennial employees are motivated to complete their day to day jobs to the best of their abilities, but they haven’t quite captured the idea of looking around and seeing what can be done next. This can be embraced by considering their true motivations; use this to their advantage. Even if they don’t want to climb the career ladder, you could capture their attention by offering paid time off when they have worked hard on a dedicated task.
- Millennials are willing to work hard and put in the time, but they are less interested in face to face interactions. In their eyes, time shouldn’t be wasted, so they are motivated by gaining a true work-life balance. Their goal is often to get the job done, put it aside for the day and then enjoy other things in life. To millennials life is always uncertain, so the here and now will always motivate them to work harder.
- Millennials actually have great respect for their leaders, but they don’t respect them just because they are a higher rank in the ladder. Loyalty is seen by millennials as something to be earned over time, rather than given ‘just because.’ If you want to earn the loyalty and respect of millennials, then give them a reason to believe you are a good leader. Guide them rather than befriend them on a social level; this will give you better results.
- Millennials don’t really know how to grow up, which results in a delay in adulthood. Most are getting married later, buying houses later and having children later on in life. This isn’t due to lack of maturity; it might simply be down to money and freedom of choice. They aren’t expected to conform or follow a certain path nowadays, so they don’t.
Counteracting These Tendencies
If you are looking to retain staff, then you need to learn how to counteract these millennial tendencies. Change your focus towards what motivates them, and you will see results. Some of the most important elements to consider are company values, leadership training, flexible working time and, wellness and communication.
Company Values: Stop wasting time wishing that your employee demographic was different and do something to change your overall business values. The desires and drive you used to have in your mid-twenties are bound to be different to those now. With a little creative thinking you will be able to balance corporate needs whilst taking into account the individual desires of Millennials.
Leadership Training: The only way you can gain respect from millennials is by undertaking leadership training so that you are able to understand and recognise the needs of the people around you. Adopting a mentoring training scheme would also help to capture the attention and retain more millennials in your workplace.
Flexible Working Time: Nowadays time is more valuable than money for millennials. Offer them time in lieu rather than overtime payments and think about increasing holiday allowances during busy periods or after a big deadline. This will motivate millennials more than an increased salary in many cases.
Wellness: Millennials are more passionate than any other generation about wellness. If you can improve wellness programmes or offer incentives in the workplace, you are much more likely to retain your millennial employees.
Communication: Regular communication goes a long way with millennials at work. They enjoy regular check ins rather than annual reviews. Think about communicating as you would on social media; short and regular catch ups that contain recognition and feedback will do the trick.
All in all, employers now need to approach their managerial styles with a more flexible approach. In a recent survey amongst nearly 8000 millennials, 25% of them desired to quit their current job and move onto something else within a year; on a similar note almost 45% of those surveyed wanted to move on in two years. Your job is to counteract this mindset, by adapting to your workforce demographic. By putting emphasis on the importance of these altered trends it can provide huge returns on investment for your business. It is true that millennials are much more sensitive to poor leadership and toxic work environments, so it is your job to make their workplace a safe, encouraging and motivating place to be. By implementing these changes, you will reap the benefits as the majority of your workforce will have their needs and preferences met.