Gearing Your Business to Millennials
The workforce is in the midst of a major shift, with millennials expected to make up 75 percent by the year 2025. Companies that have the power to attract, retain, and make the most of what this younger generation has to offer will be on the right track for success. Born between 1980 and 2000, millennials are known for several notable characteristics that companies can harness including being confident, open-minded, team oriented, and technologically advanced. This is partly because millennials have grown up in a time teeming with tech, as the first generation to have been raised with personal computers and smartphones. While there are characteristics that are associated with each generation, it is important to note that these are generational differences, and not generalizations of personality. To learn more about the difference between these facets, check out this blog.
In the meantime, learn more about the trends in millennial work style preferences, and what organizations can do to utilize them.
Give Them Opportunities to Grow
When beginning a career, millennials tend to see each job as a stepping stone or growth opportunity. This means that they aim to use any skill or asset to further develop themselves in the workplace. These assets include mentors, training programs, and projects that challenge them to advance their professional skills.
Providing mentors not only helps millennials find a path in which they can excel, but it can also double as a way to reap the benefits of their efforts. A mentorship program is a great way to fuel millennials’ passion for learning. These are employees seeking constant feedback as well as a coach who can help guide them through their workplace, career, and even personal growth landscape.
Millennials seek a manager or company that will help with their professional advancement. They strive for new and more challenging opportunities within a company. The Huffington Post notes that 79% of millennials prefer their boss to be more of a coach or mentor in their professional lives.
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Foster a Family Vibe
Promoting from within is another way to show your company is open to helping employees grow, as are training, team development, and leadership programs. Job-hopping is one of the traits more commonly associated with millennials than any other generation - they are always looking for the "next best thing." According to Harvard Business Review, studies show that 93% of millennials left their employers in order to change roles, while only 7% took a new position within their own company. Providing growth opportunities is a prime way to keep employees of this generation involved, as well as incentivize them to stay within the same company.
Millennials tend to think of their coworkers and bosses as work relatives and work parents, respectively. This makes them particularly drawn to companies that have a friendly, inviting culture. More than any other generation, millennials put a large emphasis on having a manager who is friendly and fun to work with, along with a workplace that is equally as comfortable. Millennials believe that managers should be invested in them, give them honest feedback, and let them know they are appreciated. This encourages employees to have pride in their work and strive to do more than what is simply required of them.
As a Birkman employee, it is evident how much that family feel can better bring the company together as a team in how we communicate, better encourage one another to continually grow and develop, and challenge each other to take on new tasks. As an intern, I was tasked with several projects that all had a similar scope in terms of job function. After getting to know the marketing department better, I was able to contribute to projects further outside of my job scope. Upon realizing that I had an interest in art and design, they offered to help me gain experience with design programs and create front-end graphics. Since I was able to form those close relationships with the marketing team, I was easily able to enhance my skills in what I was most interested in with their guidance. This opportunity showed me how my interests and skills within the company are valued and that our company's culture represents one in which those personal relationships are strongly encouraged, which are important parts of any career.
Ultimately, millennials are consumers of the workplace, and those that provide a sense of community are highly sought after. Engaging employees in social activities outside of work contributes to the family feel, along with team development exercises to strengthen those work relationships.
Read More: Tips for Team Building During Company Growth
Provide Benefits that Matter
A large paycheck is typically a good thing in the eyes of any generation, but for millennials there are other things that matter just as much if not more. Flexible hours and work-at-home options are at the top of the list. This generation values being able to balance a home and work life. In today’s society, the ability to choose when and where to work is becoming a more attainable aspiration.
Other perks, such as gym membership discounts or other niche benefits can give your company an attractive boost, as can generous vacation time. While it may seem counterintuitive, increased vacation time can actually increase productivity and employee loyalty. Because of technology, millennials come to expect these perks. Working from home is now a possibility because of company laptops and improved technology. Other generations didn't have access to these options.
Consider checking in with your workforce on the benefits they find important and see what the company is able to provide - a little goes a long way. Open discussion forums and surveys are also great ways to gather honest feedback from employees on what they value most. As a millennial myself, I know that it is important for me to know that my values are taken into consideration.
Achieving a healthy work-life balance is more than just talk for millennials. It’s a way of life. You’ll be ahead of the pack if your company makes it easy for the generation to achieve and maintain that balance with attractive employee perks.
Read More: Successfully Manage a Remote Working Team
Provide Work that Matters
Working simply for the sake of a paycheck is not a commonality you’ll find among millennials. They generally want to work on something that uses their unique skills while best benefiting the company. They want to work for organizations that are not only providing a great product or service, but one that is also doing great things towards making a difference in the world.
Being a part of a bigger picture is a draw for millennials, and if they’re passionate about that something, they are more than likely to go that extra mile. Use this passion to the company’s advantage - keeping that excitement alive and aimed in the right direction can not only increase productivity, but also keep millennial employees involved and exerting their best potential. Providing opportunities for them to contribute to bigger projects like leading client presentations or strategizing for upper-level management is a great way to make them feel more involved in the company and excited about their work.
Each year, Birkman aims to get involved with the community and do some form of volunteer work. This year in particular, we will be helping out and playing with the kids at the Special Olympics. I have been given the assignment of planning out this event and organizing all of the details associated with it. This has given me a change from my usual work routine and let me expand my skills toward an important project for the company that is for a genuine good cause. Along with the sense of accomplishment that comes with organizing such a huge event, I have truly realized the value in being given the opportunity to do so.
It’s no surprise that millennials are innately drawn toward anything involving technology. It is more accessible, and something they are comfortable with. Give your company handbook, policy manual, and other assets an electronic revamp. Information should be presented in a way that’s easy to digest and understand, and language should be updated to be direct and concise. The best way to implement this is through technology.
While your talent selection process may include loads of resumes from millennials that don’t yet have a lot of job experience, that’s not the bottom line of a newly emerging workforce. What you really want to look for are individuals who are ready for action, hungry for learning, and eager to make a difference in your company. Millennials are the generation for the job. Raised in a fast-paced digital world, they are equipped with the characteristics that can best improve a company if cultivated correctly.
While previous generations may have been satisfied receiving direction from employers, millennials expect a manager to be a coach, not a boss. Fostering a real relationship, frequent check-ins, and personalized advice are important in relationships between managers and millennials.
In order to build a successful work environment that is welcoming and appealing to different generations, it is crucial to understand the work preferences and personality needs of different people. Robust personality assessments like The Birkman Method illuminate complex facets of personality and provide a way to discuss and gain a deeper understanding of what makes each person tick. While there may be overarching work preferences for millennials that stem from generation differences—familiarity with technology, for example—it is even more important to realize what interests and motivates each employee, as well as what keeps each person performing at their best. Diving into the visible and hidden parts of personality allows teams to gain a better understanding of each other in order to grow camaraderie, work satisfaction, and productivity throughout an organization.
>Learn more about generational versus personality differences—how to tell the difference between them and how they impact the professional world—in this blog.
About the Author | Ashley Bannwart
Ashley is a native Houstonian and proud Aggie. She graduated Texas A&M with a Bachelors in Management Consulting and a minor in International Business. She works with both the Independent Consultant team, as well as the Marketing team at Birkman. Ashley has a passion for the arts and learning new things from everyone she meets. When she isn’t traveling back to College Station, Ashley is exploring cities all over the world, especially after living in France for 6 months. She continues to build upon her experience as she tackles new projects for the Birkman team with her immense creativity and determination.