It’s not news that Millennials have a huge impact on the workplace. Already accounting for 50% of the workforce and set to make up nearly 75% by 2025, they’re certainly not going anywhere. Companies today have to be prepared to meet the needs of Millennial employees. As workplace demographics continue to shift, workplace practices have to shift as well. Let’s explore some of the ways you can make your workplace more Millennial friendly.
Break the myth: it’s not about perks.
It’s not ping pong tables, catered lunches, or happy hours that keep Millennials at a company. These perks may draw them in, but most certainly won’t make them stay. The bottom line is that you have to have a good company culture that shows through in the workplace. The workplace should be a positive environment where employees feel a sense of camaraderie. That’s what keeps Millennials happy and continuing to work at your company. A good work environment beats out free stuff any day.
Avoid calling them ‘Millennials’.
With all the negativity surrounding the word Millennial, it’s no surprise this generation balks at being labeled as such. The label precedes them before they take the job and follows them around once they’re there. Many Millennials feel that they’ll be judged unfairly based on stereotypes rather than their actual work.
Here’s the rule – when you’re talking to an employee individually, don’t use the M-word. This is especially important when giving critiques. Make sure employees know you’re basing your comments on their aptitude and performance, not their generation. Don’t ever say to an employee, even in joking ‘Oh, it must be because you’re a Millennial!’
Put them at ease.
A great way to put a new employee at ease is by pairing them with a training buddy during their first week, or longer if it’s feasible. 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.
Help them learn and grow.
Millennials are hungry to learn new skills, and rank access to learning opportunities as a top employer benefit. Lack of training is the number one reason Millennials start searching for new jobs. Training can be offered in many ways, including peer to peer learning, mentoring, and formal training. Reverse mentoring, where a Millennial becomes the mentor to a Boomer or Gen Xer, is a great way to get Millennials engaged. Millennials like sharing their knowledge as much as they like learning.
Provide them with ample feedback.
Millennials expect frequent feedback on how they’re doing. On the fly coaching needs to replace outdated bi-annual performance reviews. 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 Millennials you’re invested in them, and in return they’ll be more likely to engage in their work.
Recognize their big accomplishments.
Millennials come from a world where the things they do are graded and everything is public. From school to social media, they’re used to having a direct measurement of their successes and failures. Mimic this behavior at work by having a place to publicly display employee achievements and celebrate accomplishments. Reward Millennials 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.
Give back to the community.
Corporate social responsibility is a top priority for Millennials. It can’t just be lip service either, like a big push for donations at the holidays. Programs where employees can donate part of their paycheck each month to a charity don’t cut it for Millennials either. The impact has to be bigger, and they want to be part of the action and directly making an impact in giving back to the community. The more ways a company gives back to the community, the happier your Millennial employees will be.
The best thing about all of this is it doesn’t just benefit Millennial employees, it benefits everyone. Millennials are forcing us to reevaluate workplace practices that have been in place for decades simply because that was the way things were done. Take the first step by implementing at least a few these changes, and you’ll reap the benefits immediately.
By Ashira Prossack
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