Millennials in Your Workspace
The only generation that grew up with technology is millennials. Gen-Xers had to learn how to leverage technology later in life, and of course us baby boomers had to learn it even later in life. But millennials learned to use their iPhones at a very early age. Because of this, their collaboration skills are off the charts. Millennials have an uncanny ability to multitask with technology. How often do you catch them in front of the TV, on their phone, and on a tablet at the same time? As much as we as parents don’t like it, this multitasking collaboration effort is a skill that could prepare them for a career in sales. Statistically the majority of college grads will end up in a career in sales.
Let me set the scenario. Millennials are not lazy. Millennials are not selfish. Millennials are not stupid.
That being said here is what millennials are: The most educated generation. The most traveled generation. The most technologically astute generation. The most ignorant generation when it comes to time and timing. (I will explain this one later) And, the most socially aware generation.
If you understand these qualities, you will be able to leverage it to your advantage and bridge the gap between generations.
Millennials are smart. I know this because I raised two and they are wicked smart. They both work for major corporations and tell me about their role. Notice I said “role”. That is a key factor in bridging the gap or getting the most out of a millennial in the workplace. As an employer it is crucial to millennials to understand not only what is expected of them, but what it means to the corporation overall. As a sales rep for example, you need them to understand the importance of them achieving quota because it is part of a bigger plan. Quota achievement equals revenue that equals growth, etc.
There are more than 75 million millennials in America and about the same number of baby boomers. With the poor economy and the terrible recession many boomers are extending their work life. They simply can’t afford to retire. This is causing a major problem for millennials trying to enter the workforce. There simply aren’t enough entry level jobs for them. Millennials believe they are over qualified for entry level jobs. This disconnect has caused a series of issues we must deal with. You see Millennials want to make a difference on day one. They see themselves as change makers. They need to feel like they are contributing to the organizations overall goals. This feeds directly into my first point. It is important to understand how to integrate a millennial into your organization. Make sure they understand the corporate goals, and how they fit into them. Give millennials some responsibility, and more importantly give them feedback. A lot of it in fact. They want it and they want it often. However, walk the very thin line of feedback versus criticism. They don’t handle criticism too well. It can backfire and you have millennial jumping jobs.
Millennials will likely move from job to job 3-4 times after graduation before they land somewhere they want to stay. Remember this when you hire a millennial. They are a mobile generation. They will move from job to job and city to city looking for the perfect fit. They believe they are “entitled” to be happy in their work life. If you want to keep them, you must ensure they understand where they fit, how they contribute, provide feedback, and give them some responsibility.
Just because millennial’s requests are outrageous to you, it doesn’t make it wrong. When dealing with millennials we need to think outside the box. For example, the other day someone suggested a “social media break”. I questioned them further and discovered this company offers everyone in the office ten-minute social media breaks every few hours. What they do is allow employees to get on their phones or computers and check Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter and collaborate with friends. Apparently this has actually improved productivity and focus.
Finally, you must keep in mind the tech savviness of this generation. They are on the internet a lot. They are the equivalent of Google Alerts when it comes to their employer. In other words, you cannot hide bad news from them. They collaborate through social media and know if something is wrong in moments of it occurring. You must be honest and upfront with this generation. They will know if a company is struggling, stock is falling, SEC investigations, or whatever. They are looking at YouTube, LinkedIn, various news outlets, and of course talking (virtually) with any number of people throughout your organization.
Millennials are smart, hardworking, socially conscious, and want to make a difference in your organization. You just need to let them. Teach them what they need to know, provide a lot of feedback, and show them a path to success. If all else fails, call their parents. Did I happen mention they are the most connected generation to their parents? Millennial’s still rely on their parents for advice and direction.