Born between 1977 and 1997, Millennials will become the dominant workplace population segment for the first time this year. This coincides with the youngest of the Baby Boomers entering their 50s and retiring in record numbers. For businesses to survive, the end result must be an unprecedented transfer of knowledge and business-critical information between generations.
Who are these Millennials and what can you as an employer learn from them?
The Harvard Business Review recently polled 2,200 professionals regarding workplace values and what they wanted from their employers. The results showed that overwhelmingly, Millennials seek a constant stream of feedback. They’re in a hurry for growth and success and they demand a seamless work/life balance that supports their optimistic point of view.
Millennials have been perfecting their resumes their entire lives, since there have been so many of them and so relatively few spots at top school and companies. They’re used to overachieving and to making strong commitments to community service. You need to keep them engaged – and then they’ll be happy to overachieve for you.
The time to leverage the strengths of Millennials is now. Bringing them together with more experienced members of your workforce can lead to game-changing innovations as you meld Baby Boomer experience with millennial creativity and drive.
Lessons to be learned include:
Multitasking: Millennials are energetic, resourceful and naturally tech-savvy. They’re eager to learn new things – and their attraction to a fast-paced environment lets them handle multiple responsibilities without batting an eyelash.
Flexibility: Too large a workload turns Millennials off, but not enough work depletes their enthusiasm. They may be willing to put in 11-hour days if the work is interesting and necessary enough, but as noted by one Harvard survey respondent, “I am satisfied by the fact that my boss doesn’t demand a strict 9 to 5 schedule.”
Technological finesse: Your average Millennial can Google a topic and write an unrelated report at the same time. As they integrate into your leadership team, you can and must learn technology as your primary means of communication. Millennials quickly tune out in face-to-face meetings. They tend to lose concentration easily due to their affinity for texting, checking emails and staying electronically in touch.
Positivity: Millennials have a positive outlook of the world, as indicated by another survey response: “There are so many things to learn and be exposed to, and not enough time to do it all.” They are interested in working for companies whose ethics match their own and they place top value on honesty. They want transparent communication and they want it right away. Every good employer can appreciate their desire for “respect, open communication, to be informed and to constantly learn my manager’s expectations.”
The Fast Track to Success
The energy and enthusiasm of Millennials may at times feel like a challenge. They need to be managed carefully with career paths that keep them from jumping to other companies. Your goal is to keep them feeling valued, empowered and engaged – and of course, this need not employ only to the younger members of your workforce. Improving your ability to give honest, timely feedback and useful coaching will benefit employees of all ages.
Millennials need extra guidance when it comes to politics and process. They may underestimate their importance. But keep in mind that they want to learn. You just have to be there for them. There can be a perfect match between Millennials’ desire to make immediate contributions and the need for them to take over leadership roles as your Baby Boomer employees conclude their tenures.
Could you benefit from expert advice, market intelligence and workforce development knowledge as you realize your sourcing, hiring and retention goals? Read our related posts or contact the executive search consultant team at BrainWorks to learn more.