Millennials are not their parents. That’s both good news and bad news for leadership.The good news for many organizations is that salary and bonuses are no longer the major motivators they once were. The bad news is that the millennial generation workforce is driven by values and beliefs, and workplace benefits other than cash. This means managers and leaders need to work harder on their leadership skills, especially during periods of change.
What really matters to the millennial generation workforce?
A four-year study by PwC published in 2011 found that the millennial generation workforce is:
- More interested in work/life balance than financial reward. They want to learn and develop professionally and personally, and put flexible working hours above cash incentives
- Highly technology savvy, and prefer to communicate electronically. They believe that technology increases workplace effectiveness
- More interested in career progression than competitive salaries
- Loyalty-lite, with more than half expecting to have between two and five employers during their career
In its 2015 Millennial Majority Workforce, Elance-Odesk found that millennials offer skillsets that are vital to businesses today. These include adaptability, ideation, and technological expertise. However, the study also found that more than half of hiring managers find it difficult to hire and retain millennials, and that nearly 60% of millennials expect to leave their job within three years.
A value oriented workforce
Millennials are more socially conscious than the Baby Boomers and Gen-X’ers before them. Information flows more freely. They are well educated, self-confident, and energetic. They look for creative solutions to problems, and are willing to collaborate to find them. These qualities manifest themselves as big ideas that spread fast through social media – as evidenced by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014.
Strategize to engage the millennial generation workforce
Millennials want more from their employer than a place to work and a paycheck. They want to own problems and solutions, but equally desire to work for companies that offer career opportunities and exhibit strong corporate and social responsibility. Organizations must develop strategies to engage and retain the new generation.
Tailor solutions to individuals
Organizations are used to dealing with a baby-boomer generation that works to strict patterns, procedures, and hours. They accept the hierarchical beast that is the old style organization. The new generation of workers more readily accept flattened management hierarchies and collaborative working practices and in some cases, outwardly rejects the classical hierarchy.
A one-size-fits-all approach does not work to engage millennials. Employees must be managed on a micro-scale with benefits of work offered similarly. For example, we’ve noticed a growing trend among employers to offer health and wellbeing benefits on a flexible, pick-and-mix basis. Be careful to not confuse this for micromanagement, which instead communicates that the employee is both distrusted and not valued for their input. Instead, they want an environment where they can overcome their unique weaknesses and improve their strengths.
Millennials want to know they are doing a good job, and continually improving. There are a number of ways in which leadership can engage their people here:
- Offer help and mentorship
- Reward people for taking appropriate risks, especially when innovating for change
- Provide frequent feedback (gone are the annual reviews, and in come the weekly catch-ups)
- Create a culture of teamwork, and line your incentives up with that teamwork
Jumpstart change by changing the culture of engagement
By 2020, the millennial generation workforce will constitute around half of the total workforce in the United States. It’s the biggest influx of workers from a single generation since the baby boomers came of age. But their mindsets, values, and beliefs are different.
Organizations will need to change their culture to fully engage with this opportunity, and strategize to retain the millennial workers that will shape the future. The only constant is change, and millennials are more adept to change than any generation that has gone before.
Contact Forward Focus today and discover how a Change Agent Bootcamp, and coaching in Consulting and Facilitating, will help your organization take advantage of the modern, collaborative workplace.