The long anticipated Millennial takeover is upon us, and according to a Pew report, millennials make up more than half of the workforce. If popular perception is to be believed, millennials are entitled, lazy, narcissistic, social media addicts. However, these stereotypes undermine the truth that millennials are passionate and want work with purpose that integrates into their lives.
As the millennial generation matures, they have ever increasing influence on society and are changing workplace culture. Where Baby Boomers and Gen X were often happy to seek out long-term employment and job security, Millennials are much less loyal and will take a pay cut for a job that allows them a better quality of life.
In this way, what some see as entitlement is simply an empowered generation with a strong sense of self worth. They understand their value in the knowledge-based economy, where people are more important than machines. At the same time, the rise of the knowledge economy necessitates educational solutions that prepare up-and-coming generations for the changing workplace.
Likewise, businesses must recognise that younger workers have different expectations and needs than generations past. According to organisational development expert Jessica Geist:
“The workforce…is now based on human minds, human capability. As a result, companies have to start treating their people with more tenderness, more care, more attention.”
Make no mistake, this doesn’t mean offices have to be as “aggressively playful” as the all millennial team at the digital publisher Mic. What it does mean is that millennials want to feel like their voices and their contributions matter. They also don’t believe in work-life balance so much as work-life integration.
Engaging millennial workers isn’t rocket science. Here are a few keys for employers to keep in mind.
- Provide work with purpose. Millennials want good-paying jobs, but they also want work that’s fulfilling and purposeful. It doesn’t necessarily have to be world changing. Most will be satisfied to see a clear connection between their individual contributions and company mission by involving the entire organisation in strategic planning.
- Offer feedback regularly and often. You should be doing this anyway. However, don’t be surprised if your young workers want more feedback than you’re used to. Ditch the traditional performance review and embrace the idea of collaborative management, while allowing space for autonomy.
- Develop a culture of consistent growth. Millennials are ambitious: They want to have clear paths to growth and mentors to help them get there. Despite popular misconception that they think they know it all, millennials are eager to learn as long as it leads to both personal and professional growth.
Millennials aren’t kids anymore. They’re the biggest generation since the Baby Boomers with skills and creativity crucial to the future of modern organisations. The future is now, and it’s time to embrace millennial culture rather than resisting the inevitable.
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