Millennials – they’re passionate, adaptive and tech-savvy. Born between 1980 and 2000, millennials make up the largest proportion of the workforce, so it’s important to understand what makes them tick.
Previous generations can sometimes find millennials difficult to engage with, labelling them as impatient, narcissistic or demanding. But it is important that leaders learn to understand this generation in order to make working together easier. Millennials want to make a positive contribution to the workplace – they just need you to work with them.
In reality, young people have always been demanding and narcissistic – these tendencies reflect a stage of life more so than one’s generation. Nonetheless, there are some differences between millennials and older generations which are important to distinguish. Paul Siderovski from SiDCOR accountants notes that playing on the strengths of the millennial generation is a major key to workplace success.
SiDCOR’s 6 tips for inspiring millennials
Connect them to a greater purpose
Millennials want to know the meaning behind the work they’re doing. Don’t expect them to blindly comply with your requests – they want to know the reasoning behind what’s going on. They want their work to have a positive impact on the world and to be reassured that they are making a real difference. They want the organisation they work for to reflect their values – so make sure you communicate what your values are.
Millennials value their freedom and autonomy, which means that a strict, autocratic leadership style won’t hold up well with them. A transformational leadership style, which aims to empower and motivate others, may work better and lead to higher performance. Studies have shown that millennials prefer working at organisations that are flexible and diverse, so ensuring that you have a diverse team and offer flexible work opportunities (such as allowing them to work remotely) is a good idea.
Acknowledge their efforts
While we all love having our efforts recognised, acknowledgment is particularly important to millennials. Considered to be less materialistic than previous generations, they are more likely to stay engaged and work hard if they know their efforts are being appreciated – a simple thank you or pat on the back can work well.
The misconception that millennials are lazy stems from a difference in values – older generations value structure, fixed work schedules and dress codes, whereas millennials tend to only really care about results. So ease up on the rules a bit – as long as they’re getting the work done, it shouldn’t matter too much if they’re wearing jeans instead of suit pants.
Encourage change in the workplace
Unlike previous generations, millennials are much more open to the concept of change – in fact, they might even prefer it. This is in part a result of the fast-paced nature of modern society; millennials are used to having to rapidly adapt to new technology and environments. This gives them a tendency towards restlessness, meaning that they get bored quickly and need frequent new stimulation.
This is a real challenge which leaders must address. As per Kev’s Best challenging millennials by giving them new work and learning opportunities is a great way to combat employee boredom and encourage growth and development. Reducing their work hours based on how much they are producing may be another option – if they can get their work done in five hours, why keep them in the office for eight?
Millennials went to school during a time where there was an increased emphasis on group projects and teamwork. This tends to make them efficient in group situations where people work together with their own defined roles. Structuring your millennial staff in this way can allow you to take advantage of this strength.
Understanding what motivates millennials can help you to manage them more effectively, leading to a more productive and cohesive workplace.