Anyone who doesn’t think keeping millennial employees happy should get out a bit more. Millennials are the future.
You can’t ignore them because there are so many of them there. They now make 34 per cent of the Australian work force and in 10 years’ time, there are estimates that number could swell to 75 per cent.
And they’re different.
Here is a generation that would not remember a time without mobile phones, lap tops and desk tops. Cheque books, fax machines, even radios, are from another era. Raised by doting parents who told them they were special, they played in competitions where there were no losers, everyone was a winner and everyone got a trophy. It’s a generation that grew up on the Internet. Many of them know how to launch a viable online business. Let’s remember that Facebook began in a college dorm room.
They grew up with financial meltdowns, security alerts, student loans and no jobs. They are diverse, well connected and champion causes from green activism to gay marriage. They came of age in the Apple era, when how a device was designed was as important as what it did.
There are already signs that they are already having an impact in the workplace. Many companies have now gotten used to their Millennial employees taking time out to travel. These days, it’s regarded as all part of their learning experience. Companies frightened of losing their younger employees are offering flexitime and job sharing options. Ten years ago, remote working, telecommuting and virtual teams were regarded as oddities. They are now becoming a standard.
This is why so many companies are now realising why it’s important to keep them happy.
But it’s complicated. This is also a generation that’s expected to be financially worse off than the previous one. So how do you keep them happy?
Meaningful work: Older generations were there to get the job done. Millenials need to know they’re making a difference. The work has to be meaningful so it’s important to convey that meaning. What makes it different from other jobs?
Work-life merge: Forget work-life balance, it doesn’t work anyway. What’s needed here is something that blends in with their lives outside of work. They know that people don’t turn their brains once they leave the workplace so they should be encouraged to remain keen and focused. That tells they’re important, and they thrive on recognition.That also means if they are putting in long days, allow them some time on Facebook and social media. In their eyes, it’s a trade-off for their hard work. This is a way of creating a passionate workforce.
Consistent feedback: More than any other generation, the millennials thrive on feedback. What’s important here is it makes them feel recognised, it makes their work meaningful. So don’t treat the feedback as a whining session, it’s about building their skills and developing their know-how.
Reverse mentoring: This is the most tech savvy generation out. When it comes to technology, they’re way ahead of the rest. How about getting them to mentor older generations on how to use the technology. Again, it will give them a special role. It makes their work mean something special. And that keeps them, happy.
Development: Courses, diplomas and degrees are all part of the mix for this generation. So is giving them stretch responsibilities to extend their skills. You keep them happy by developing their careers.
Of course, they are unlikely to stay with you for too long. Job hopping is another feature of this generation. Accept that, and they’ll be happy. Because there are plenty more out there.
Written by Ross Fastuca @Locomote