Article provided by Matt Arnerich, content writer for the UK’s leading graduate recruitment agency, Inspiring Interns.
As sick as we all are of hearing the millennial tag thrown around, provided that companies continue to distance themselves from those that will make up 50% of the workforce by 2020, it’s here to stay.
Of course, we’re talking about almost 13.8m people in the UK alone here, with different passions, goals, cultures and shoe sizes, which is part of why providing them with some kind of ubiquitous identity makes so many so queasy.
Having said that, it’s without doubt that there are a whole variety of shared circumstances that unify a large proportion of those born between the early-80s and mid-90s, including huge changes such as the rapid onset of the information age.
As a result, business leaders and recruiters can look at addressing certain institutional problems that may seriously affect their employee engagement and productivity, along with the loyalty of the people they hire.
Failing to explain the bigger picture
One of the biggest ways companies fail to engage millennials properly is through top down, dictatorial management. Studies suggest that 65% of millennials noted personal development as the biggest factor that made them accept their current job. We want to understand and absorb information.
Why? It may well come from growing up in an age where information is more freely available than ever before, and we’re much more able to question popular opinion (let me just google that…). There’s also a far greater desire to be autonomous later in life than for previous generations, with two thirds wanting to start their own business at some point in their life.
This all means that opportunities to learn are hugely important, and taking the time to explain the bigger role they’re playing in the business goes both ways. Share the company vision where appropriate, explain why they’re doing certain tasks, and align everyone more clearly with your goals.
This understanding will not only lead to a happy workforce, but an engaged one too. With only 7% of all workers truly understanding company direction and goals, having a workforce that is clearly moving towards one goal could be the thing that separates your company from everyone else.
Asking them to go against their convictions
The millennial generation is typically characterised as being much more socially conscious than those before them, with equality at the core of many young people’s moral code.
Again, access to information here plays a big part. They’re much more aware of the issues that others face across the world, which in turn is facilitated by others being more vocal about injustice and having a platform on which to do it. They’re no longer wrapped up in class systems and local communities, and able to empathise with people they wouldn’t traditionally interact with.
Yes, every generation has an early period of idealism, but it looks like this one will remain. For the most part, this is because being socially conscious is far more mainstream. Yesterday’s hippies may well be today’s bankers, but you no longer need to be part of a counter-culture to get behind a cause.
The message here is again one of transparency. Most companies should understand that it is no longer easy to hide dodgy ethics behind good PR. The best way to get employees behind your brand and image? Make sure it’s one that’s worth getting behind.
Managers who fail to work as hard as the people they manage
The days of management taking endless golf days while the underlings of the company tackle the majority of the workload may well be over.
While this is something that has disgruntled entry-level employees for years, millennials are generally characterised by a strong sense of fair play across everything they do. Yes we care about feedback, and aren’t all the keen on micro-managing, but we also feel that we deserve respect. It’s also more important that we respect the people that we work for. The perceived ‘laziness’ of this generation is more likely to come from a sense of disenfranchisement with those handing down the jobs.
Granted this isn’t a wholly new problem, but as many socially conscious millennials reach management level, a sense of fair delegation and appropriate workload will naturally come to the fore. If your older managers fail to understand this, your failure to engage correctly could be your downfall.
Taking inspiration from many of the big players across technology, today’s younger workforce is far more likely to focus on results over appearances. Perceptions are questioned more regularly, such as the relevancy of getting in early when you’re getting far more done than the early bird employees.
This partly comes from the inquisitive nature already discussed, but also comes down to a knowledge divide on areas including technology.
The truth is, this approach makes sense, you just have to have faith in both the people that you chose to hire, and the managers who set the expectations. Flexible hours can play their part in employees feeling trusted and valued, provided that targets are understood and met.
Trust in metrics, trust in quality control and trust in targets. That way you’ll not only be able to accurately forecast and chart success but you’ll end up with a content workforce. We’ve finally realised that time at desk doesn’t necessarily equate to productivity. Don’t be left behind.