Millennials and the Modern Workforce

Seven tips to help foster a work environment that will attract millennials and benefit your business

Millennials and the Modern Workforce
May 18, 2017

As often mentioned, one of the most significant current workforce trends is the influence of Millennials. They account for about 36 percent of the workforce in the U.S., and the number keeps on growing. So, how are Millennials, the group generally considered to have been born between 1980 and 2000, different from previous generations such as Baby Boomers and Gen Xers?

It is never easy or particularly productive to define the entire generation by a handful of over-generalized characteristics. Recent research has demonstrated that Millennials want to have the same things all other generations wanted, including a meaningful job, fair compensation, and recognition. What is different, though, is the environment that shapes each generation. Millennials, for example, came to age during the years of severe economic crisis, and they had to deal with mounting student debt, corporate downsizing, loss of mutual commitment between organizations and their employees, and overall financial instability and unpredictability. On a personal level, Millennials are globally connected, technologically savvy, efficient, socially conscious, and hardworking (despite popular belief suggesting otherwise). All of these elements play an important role in molding Millennials and guiding their choices, especially when they look for an organization to which they feel comfortable entrusting their knowledge, skills, and abilities.

“So, how are Millennials, the group generally considered to have been born between 1980 and 2000, different from previous generations such as Baby Boomers and Gen Xers?”

To attract and retain Millennials, employers need to create the best place for them to work and realize their talent. These seven tips will help foster the environment they are looking for that will benefit your business in the long run.

  1. Make them proud to work for your organization by reinforcing strong organizational values and a cohesive culture. One of the top factors influencing Millennials’ selection of a new workplace is buy-in to the mission and vision of the organization. In other words, Millennials not only want to work in their new organization, but also support its long-term purpose and values, which should be on par with their own.
  2. Allow them be themselves and don’t try to mold them into something they are not. Discover and amplify their strengths while minimizing the effect of their weaknesses. For example, if you see that your new young employee is very good working on his or her own and not faring that well in a group setting, let them work on individual projects. You will get better results that way than by forcing them to work in groups.
  3. Make their work more meaningful by designing projects and creating assignments that have significance for both the organizational unit and employees themselves. This is especially important for the retention of talented employees, who identify the lack of interesting, meaningful, and challenging jobs as their top reason for leaving companies.
  4. Tell your employees what is really going on. Be transparent and open to two-way communication. If you are not forthcoming with Millennials, they will call your bluff right away. Their ability to be super connected and always on will enable them to find out what is going on by themselves, which will negatively affect the atmosphere of trust that you might have been building over the years.
  5. Make sure managers don’t hinder employees with unnecessary rules, procedures, and even with annual performance reviews. The obsolescence of the latter is obvious, since about two-thirds of recently polled Millennials prefer to have feedback more regularly than just once a year. 
  6. It is important to provide Millennials with clear, meaningful development opportunities such as continuous education or medium- to long-term international assignments. This will help them better see their career growth prospects with the company and perhaps entice them to stay longer than they might have originally planned. Introducing mentors who could help Millennials navigate both the corporate environment and their careers also can be extremely beneficial.  
  7. The last but by far the most important strategy is addressing work-life balance, particularly by providing flexibility both in work time and place. Millennials, more than any other generation before them, value the work-life balance, with a noticeable shift toward the latter. If their jobs allow, let them leave early one week and ask them to stay longer another, if there is a need. Let them telecommute sometimes. Also consider the social component of the workplace. Millennials don’t want their workplaces to simply be the locations where they have to be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.—they look at them as an extension of their social lives, a place to meet new friends and collaborators. Addressing these issues will pay off by producing loyal, committed, and engaged employees.

By implementing these seven strategies, organizations will undoubtedly be able to attract and retain talented Millennials in the long run.

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