Because millennials make up the majority of today's workforce—and because their ideals differ from those of older generations—millennials in the workplace is one of the most popular topics among employers across the world.
Business owners, managers and HR leaders have expressed frustrations with younger workers (particularly millennials), and problems such as low engagement, high turnover, skepticism and unrealistic expectations.
While some of these frustrations are based on facts, many are the result of partial truths and stereotypes. In fact, millennial workers are a lot more similar to other generations than we might believe—especially in terms of hard work and commitment.
3 realities of millennials in the workplace
To help you think more strategically about attracting and retaining millennials at your company, here are 3 realities of millennials in the workplace:
1. Millennials in the workplace need technology, but they need people too.
The millennial generation is really the first generation that grew up with technology—and they have adopted it more than any generation before—so they are clearly comfortable leveraging it in the workplace. Millennials appreciate how technology saves them time. They also prefer software and tools over boring Excel spreadsheets and other old-school methods. (For the record, I could never understand Excel, and I'm part of Generation X.)
But just because they value technology doesn't mean they don't value people and relationships. In fact, millennials want to be engaged in all aspects of the business and feel as though they are part of a community at work. Trust and good relationships are determining factors in their job satisfaction, engagement, commitment and retention.
Here are some tips to balance technological needs with relational needs:
- If possible, allow millennials to use their preferred technology at work.
- Strengthen internal communications to foster engagement and ongoing conversions.
- Communicate with them often about things like compensation, development and performance.
2. Millennials in the workplace are extremely hardworking and self-reliant.
Millennials want to feel supported and appreciated, and they thrive on feedback and mentoring. They want to have a say in decisions, contribute their ideas, and feel heard at work.
While these desires may be misconstrued as entitlement, the truth is millennials work long hours, want to contribute beyond their job responsibilities, and think strategically about what they need to be successful.
Here are some tips to bring out the best in this generation:
- Encourage millennials to contribute new ideas (then follow up on those ideas).
- Schedule one-on-one meetings and give feedback frequently.
- Provide mentoring and support.
3. Millennials in the workplace are loyal, but they are still looking for other opportunities.
Despite the stereotypes about millennials in the workplace, they truly are committed. They don't want to leave and they want to advance within an organization, but that doesn't mean they will follow you blindly or stick around if they aren't getting what they need.
So what do they need? Millennials—like most employees—won't leave if they can't get a better combination of compensation, work responsibility, development opportunities, advancement potential, and work-life balance.
Here are some tips:
- Minimize dealbreakers like chronic overload and work-life imbalance.
- Support flexibility and remote work.
- Invest in training and development opportunities that will support career growth.
- Offer competitive compensation and benefits packages.
Is your company appealing to millennials?
In countless ways, millennial-generation employees are just like everyone else. They want to do interesting and meaningful work, work with and for good people, and get paid well for the work they are doing—all while still having enough time for a meaningful life outside of work.
Can you provide that? Would you like some support to manage your frustrations? I have worked extensively (and still do) with the millennial-generation—as a career counselor, a faculty member, and a business owner. I can help bridge the gap between you and your team. Interested? I invite you to reach out to me today. Together we'll determine how I can best help you, your team and your company.