It is not news that Millennials have a huge impact on the workplace. They already accounting for around fifty per cent of the workforce and set to make up nearly seventy-five per cent by 2025. Today, when recruiting new team members, employers need to be ready and prepared to meet the needs of young people – often referred to as ‘Millennial’. As the workforce and workplace demographics change, workplace practices MUST change as well.
Busting Some Millennial Myths
It is NOT all about perks and benefits. It is not about providing ping pong tables, lunches, and having so-called, ‘happy hours’ that will help employers to retain young people. These are urban myths!
Yes, perks like these might help attract them, but they will not make them stay. Just like other employee groups, employers need to have a good company culture. Employers need a workplace that provides a positive environment where employees feel a sense of camaraderie. That is what keeps Millennials happy and wanting to work for an organisation – not gimmicks!
Exponential Training recommends NOT calling them ‘Millennials’. The term Millennial is now surrounded by lots of negative connotations therefore it can be no surprise that young people balk at being labelled as such. If you stop and think about it for a moment, you would realise that most young people when referred to as a Millennial feel that they are being judged unfairly based on stereotypes rather than their actual work.
At Exponential, we suggest you DO NOT use the M-word. Always make sure your employees and especially your young employees understand that you are basing your opinions, evaluations and comments on their aptitude and performance, NOT their generation.
A long-standing good practice when introducing new team members has been to pair them up with a training buddy during their first week, or longer if it possible. Ideally, the buddy is a peer who can help them navigate their new job and answer questions. This helps them start to build a relationship with the team and puts them at ease. New employees are much more likely to ask a peer a question than a supervisor during their first few weeks on the job.
Although this applies to most people, young people are especially hungry to learn new skills, and value access to learning opportunities as major benefit. It is therefore little wonder that a lack of training is the number one reason young people start searching for new jobs. Exponential Training’s advice is to be flexible in the ways you provide learning opportunities. It can be offered using peer to peer learning, as mentoring, and as part of a formal training programme. Young people also like what is termed, ‘reverse mentoring’ – this is where the young person becomes the mentor to someone from one of the other generation stereotypes such as a ‘Baby Boomer’ or a ‘Gen X’. Young people like sharing their knowledge as much as they like learning.
Feedback is very important to young people. They expect frequent feedback on how they are doing. On-the-job coaching and feedback are popular with young people therefore consider replacing the outdated bi-annual performance reviews with continuous, real-time feedback. Regular check-ins and continuous feedback help them stay on track with their goals and allows managers to address problems as they arise. This shows young people that you are invested in them, and in return they will be more likely to engage in their work.
Today’s young person comes from a world where the things they do are graded and everything is public. From school to social media, they are used to having a direct measurement of their successes and failures. Use this at work by having a place to publicly display employee achievements and celebrate accomplishments. Reward young people for exceptional performance, exceeding sales goals, or going above and beyond to take care of customers. This will set a high standard and give employees something to work towards.
Young people value ‘corporate social responsibility’ although they might not call it this. Just paying lip service to it will not cut it with young people. Setting up a scheme to donate money to charity through the payroll system will not appeal as they want to be part of the action – they want to make a more direct impact by giving back to the community- they want to be hands-n doing something of value.
Many of the things that the so-called Millennials, value and want are also valuable for other ages groups as well. The increased in the number of young people in the work force Young people is forcing us to re-evaluate workplace practices many of which have been in place for decades simply because that was the way things were done. Take the first step today by implementing at least a few these changes, and you will reap the benefits immediately.
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