In this article, the third in our Multigenerational Workforce series, we’ll be focusing on millennials in the workplace, including what matters to them and how best to engage them.
By 2025, millennials will make up over half of the workforce, essentially replacing the retiring Baby Boomer generation. They’ve already made a huge impact on the way we work, including leveraging technology to revolutionise productivity. Now they’re moving into leadership roles and will have even more influence on how organisations operate into the future. So, how can employers harness the power of millennials to drive their businesses forward?
Who are Millennials?
Millennials, less commonly known as Generation Y, follow Gen X and precede Gen Z. Millennials were approximately born from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s during the rise of technology, making them a tech-savvy generation. They’re the first generation to come of age in the new millennium, hence the name millennials. They are also known to put time and effort into their own personal beliefs and values.
Workers from this generation are bound together through their shared experience of financial challenges, including the 2008 Great Recession, which caused a 19% unemployment rate and massive student loan debt. Due to this, millennials are more likely to find themselves in part-time work or self-employed.
Perceptions and Misperceptions
This generation have been characterised as lazy and narcissistic, labelled as “Generation Me”. Other common perceptions for this demographic include being easily bored and hopping from job to job rather than staying with one employer. This could be, however, due to the anxiety caused from the global financial crash.
Despite these stereotypes, millennials have been described as self-sufficient, due to solving their own issues and teaching themselves through the internet rather than relying on others for help. They are also known to be confident and curious, which doesn’t always sit well with older generations.
What Matters to Millennials in the Workplace?
Digital & Tech Skills
Having been the first generation to grow up in a digital world, millennials have widespread experience of the development of technology, being both the “pioneers and the guinea pigs”.
This has affected the way that they communicate, with 41% of millennials choosing to communicate electronically instead of face-to-face according to a study by PwC. However, they’re also the last generation to have grown up in a world without the internet in every household.
When considering a job, 59% of millennials claim that technology in the workplace is an important factor. Employers are responding to this by encouraging professional use of social media at work and introducing smartphones as an employee benefit.
Mission and Purpose
Millennials thrive in a workplace that is mission-driven, keeping them motivated and inspired. In our recent report, Inside the Candidate Experience, we found that mission and purpose were the second most important factor for millennials when considering a new job. Those who work for companies with this as a priority feel more accomplished. Millennials want to share their employer’s goals and values in order to feel they are contributing to the world.
The move to a larger collaborative working environment has been provoked by the millennials through the use of technology that has become more sophisticated. A collaborative environment allows workers to speak their ideas freely and feel a sense of belonging as part of a team. One way that employers are emphasising collaboration is through mentorship programmes, which have been proven to increase the happiness of workers and their productivity.
How Do You Engage Millennials at Work?
As millennials slowly take over as the majority of the workforce, employers must learn strategies to keep them motivated and feeling valued.
Be Open and Transparent
From their leaders, millennials want openness and transparency with factual information that can be validated to ensure their confidence.
To guarantee millennials are highly productive, create clear targets with regular feedback and praise. In fact, according to the same PwC study, 51% believe that frequent or continuous feedback is a must on the job. This can help keep them motivated and engaged with their work.
To manage a multigenerational workforce, a strong leadership is a must, as well as recognising that each generation may need different methods of management. From the millennial perspective, 74% expressed that they are as happy working alongside other generations as with their own. It is unsurprising then to find millennials managing older workers.
However, 34% of millennials felt that their personal drive could be perceived as intimidating to other generations.
Effective programmes to encourage interactions between different generations are a must for employers. For example, millennials thrive in opportunities such as “reverse mentoring”, in which they are able to learn from and teach skills to older workers.
Invest in Employee Development
Millennials expect to continue learning in the workplace, with 35% stating employers who offer training to develop was an attractive quality. Opportunities to develop technology skills and interpersonal skills will go a long way to ensure your millennials workforce is ready to step into more leadership roles.
The biggest appeal for millennials is the opportunity to progress in an organisation, with 52% claiming that this was what made an employer an attractive possibility. They look at jobs as an opportunity to learn and grow. This may be the greatest differentiator between them and all other generations.
Freedom and flexibility are important to millennials in the workplace. They love to be supported yet also want their own freedom to “be their own boss”. Millennials will happily put in the long hours if they believe they have a purpose.
That said, many millennials believe that success should be evaluated through productivity, rather than the number of hours they are seen in an office. If they meet the deadlines you set, don’t be concerned about the hours they clock in and out. Focus on creating a flexible work culture to maximise millennial engagement, allowing employees to have more control over their working hours and location.
Lead with Your Values
Millennials are searching for more than “just a job” and want to achieve something worthwhile. Akin to Gen Z, millennials also place a company’s mission and purpose as an important factor. They believe that companies and their leadership should be contributing positively to society. Strong corporate ethics will encourage loyalty amongst millennials.
A report from Deloitte found that 54% of millennials research a brand’s environmental impact and polices before accepting a job offer. Ensure your organisation’s employer value proposition (EVP) showcases your intentions to address social concerns.
In our current multigenerational workplace, employers and companies should not only be placing their efforts into motivating workers in their own specific way, but to also ensure all generations are working together and sharing their unique strengths and insights.
To the workplace, millennials bring commitment and collaboration. What will the next generation of workers bring? Find out our top 10 predictions for what we think the working world will look like in 2030 and the best practices to prepare for the future in our Destination 2030 report.