WORKPLACE TRENDS #7: MILLENNIALS TAKE THE LEAD
HR Project Manager | Sr. Recruiter
Millennials are here to stay. They started as interns and entry level workers, but with the breakneck retirement of baby boomers, employers are tasked with filling and promoting millennials into leadership and management positions. According to Howe and Strauss, a millennial is anyone born between 1982 and 2004. Millennials have been stereotyped as latte guzzling shallow narcissists, lazy, materialistic, cynical, never settling down, technology obsessed, and “the worst generation yet”. Yet some of the most successful companies – G Adventures, Google, Uber, and Hootsuite – are filled with millennials who are thriving, committed, and on-fire for their jobs. As the workforce is changing, so must employers change their path to profitability to keep current in the changing workforce landscape.
THEIR WAYS ARE DIFFERENT
The workplace rules of baby boomers were built on a strict hierarchy of rank and titles. There was a reverence of the people in these positions that often made it inappropriate for the remaining workforce to contribute ideas without the fear of breaking rank. Millennials are curious and not intimidated by the title of a leader. If they are tasked with a clear outcome, they will speak up and offer ideas for the greater good. Embrace this more open dialogue, and break old barriers of rank.
THEY HATE LOW-PERFORMERS
In spite of their addiction to a $5 macchiato at the expense of their electric bill, you still need millennials. They have mastered technology and social media, have a commitment to problem solving, and if properly harnessed, have the energy of “a thousand suns”. Millennials will work long hours and stay focused on the bigger picture, but they are keenly aware of the work product of others. Seeing low performers around them is downright debilitating to them. While they are working their heart out, seeing Debbie-Do-Nothing watching the clock and doing as little as possible, makes millennials fume over how leadership tolerates this. An inequality in work expectation, regardless of the tenure of fellow employees, is an immediate trigger for them to say “no thanks”, and move on to another job.
IT’S MORE THAN MONEY
Dangling the carrot of a raise or a bonus if the company hits certain numbers is often lost on them. Millennials need something to care about today that has tangible goals and results. Talk to them about how to make a difference, not the ROI report. They will make copies and do grunt work as long as they know it makes a difference to something bigger – not your new Mercedes. Instead try to modernize your company culture, offer commissions that pertain to teams not just individuals, offer ongoing education aimed at advancement and product knowledge, and add unique incentives.
GIVE THEM A VOICE
Real life, drive, and pure talent can sometimes trump years of experience. Give them a seat at the innovation table. They have ideas that are probably different than anything you have even considered. You cannot stand by years of process and procedure with this group. Rather, you must embrace their ideas on how to do things differently. Their real-world experience with technology, social media, and cultural trends are invaluable to your company moving forward.
Encourage these digital age natives to bring and apply what they have learned into your company and culture. Allow them a platform to engage in your company’s social media, talent acquisition, and cultural experience to the outside digital world. This positive influence will only show new talent that your company is a great place to work.
Millennials are telling us what we already know, but with a different perspective and voice. They want to make money AND make a difference. If you put purpose before profit, you will have a workforce of millennials that will drive revenue through the roof.
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