Generation Y (or Millennials, as they are more commonly known) have a rough reputation in the business world. Whether they’re being blamed for the death of entire industries or mocked for their fondness for avocado toast, it isn’t often that millennials are taken seriously - especially in the workplace. However, if nurtured correctly, this group has the potential to produce some of your top performers. Here, we’ll get into how to do so.
Millennials are swiftly becoming the majority of today’s workforce. As such, there has been plenty said and written about the differences between them and the other workers that you have employed. Generally speaking, the millennials you have on staff will be the ones with the most education, and as a result, will also be under considerable (if not ludicrous) debt. The degrees that cost these millennials years of their lives and tens of thousands of dollars will often only qualify them for an entry-level job.
While this might not sound like the ideal situation for a millennial, it can be just as much of a problem for a business. Generally speaking, millennials are known for seeking challenges in the workplace, striving for rapid vertical movement. If this isn’t the environment that their workplace offers, a millennial typically isn’t afraid to seek opportunities elsewhere, and can sometimes become disengaged with their current employment and create operational wastes.
Why Millennials Can Be Difficult
While the negative characteristics of millennial employees have been written about extensively, they aren’t inherently a massive issue for employers. Having said that, some behaviors that are fairly typical of this group are often frowned upon by employers. For instance:
- Millennials are notoriously connected. While some level of connection can be beneficial to a business’ operations, there is definitely the opportunity for this connection to become a distraction. Whether its social media, some interest-based website, or the news, millennials can certainly be susceptible to the distractions of the Internet.
- Millennials can be overconfident to the point of entitlement. As referenced above, millennials are enthusiastic about vertical movement within their organization. It isn’t unusual for these employees to overestimate their value to the business, at least early on, and expect unrealistic perks from their employer.
- Millennials are opportunistic, sometimes to your disadvantage. Generation Y is notorious for seeking upward mobility, and if that isn’t something that you can offer them, they likely won’t have an issue seeking employment somewhere that can - assuming that they ever stopped seeking other opportunities in the first place.
- Millennials demand a healthy work/life balance. In addition to finding fulfillment with their employment, Generation Y also needs the opportunity to step back and recharge through their own interests - and “needs” is the right word. One of the most important considerations for a millennial is finding someplace that enables them to exercise this balance.
- Millennials expect to use technology. As the first age group with Internet access for the majority of their lives, constant access to information through their smartphones, and automation to make many of their processes easier (if not effortless), millennials have come to take this access to technology for granted. Lacking access to this technology in the workplace can easily be enough to send Generation Y elsewhere in their search.
How to Better Leverage Your Millennials
Business owners need to find employees that are committed to the company’s goals, without bringing in potential issues. There are enough examples of overconfident (dare we say arrogant) and uppity millennials out there that many of the stereotypes associated with the generation are at least founded in truth. Having said that, there are just as many - if not more - examples of millennial workers who want to contribute to your business and its team.
If you find yourself needing to manage this group, we’ve provided a few tips to help you do so:
- Give them a culture to get behind. Millennials tend to be purpose-driven employees, who want to see their work contribute to something. Creating a company culture that acknowledges their efforts and hard work will help to show them just that.
- Be flexible in work and life. While millennials may be known for committing to leisure activities, they are just as willing to commit time to work as well. Offering remote connectivity, integrations, and other forward-focused solutions allows your staff to work as they do best.
- Be a leader. Millennials need more than just a boss to bark orders at them… they are looking for a mentor to guide them. Instead of micromanaging them and making them feel as though their efforts are unappreciated, give them some autonomy in their workday.
- Provide them with technology. Millennials are used to working with technology - since they were raised with it, it’s their preferred method. If you aren’t giving them the tools they work best with, they’re apt to find someone who will.
- Give their work purpose and transparency. With the right leadership, millennials will work tirelessly to build a better organization… all they want to see is that they have a place in this organization moving forward in their career. Remaining open with them is crucial to building trust.
Millennials are making up more of the workforce all the time. Understanding these workers will only help your business adapt to working with them, and adopting the opportunities that Generation Y has to offer.
What are your workplace experiences with millennials? Share them in the comments!