Unless you’ve been living under a rock in the middle of a desert for the last couple of years, it’s impossible that you missed the endless hype surrounding Gen X and Millennials – “Millennials Invading the Workplace!“… “How to Prepare Your Organization for Millennials” – the term “Millennial” is starting to sound more like a virus and less like a demographic. And considering Simply Hired’s research that Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are predicted to make up 50% of the workplace by 2018, the hype is in many ways justified. But, instead of fearing the rise of Millennials, we should be celebrating their work ethic and adapting our organizations to take advantage of their strengths. Below are several steps that you can take to develop and transition your association into a culture appreciated by the younger generations.
What They Want
The term “Millennial” refers roughly to anyone in between the ages of 18 and 34, while Gen X represents anyone between the ages of 34 and 47. In order to create a Millennial/Gen X friendly work environment, managers (though you should be a leader, not a manager, if you want to be successful with Millennial employees) and organization owners need to understand exactly what it is that drives each demographic. One of the most common misconceptions is the idea that financial incentives result in an increase in motivation. Unlike the Baby Boomers before them, Millennials are more than willing to accept a lower paying job if it means a more social workplace, regular feedback from their supervisors, and flexibility. Millennials also appreciate additional benefits, such as company paid cell phones and laptops, when considering positions. Gen X, on the other hand, tends to be more structured, punctual, and linear than Millennials.
Create a Millennial-Friendly Culture
To work to incorporate the younger generations’ desires into your organization’s atmosphere, it’s important to create a Millennial-friendly culture. No, it’s not enough to just toss a ping pong table in the corner and claim you have a fun environment. Creating a culture in which Millennials can thrive in means fundamentally changing the way you run your organization. Millennials were raised with consistent coaching, encouragement, and feedback. Make it as easy as possible for them to really make a difference. That means involving them in your decisions, being as clear as possible when describing tasks, and encouraging coworker engagement.
Create a Pulse
Millennials thrive the most when they’re comfortable in their environment. Although different than in the past, it’s important to allow flexibility in the work environment to spark their creativity. According to Lauren Martin, Gen Y extraordinaire and contributing author to Elite Daily, Millennials “would rather die a slow death than sit in cubicles.” The reason for this is because they are easily distracted and lack motivation, right? Wrong. It’s because they thrive in comfortable and creative work environments. If that means allowing them to play appropriate music of their choice, then so be it. Establish a “casual Friday,” or better yet (ok…brace yourself), just lose the dress code all together. What matters is that the work gets done. When Millennials are comfortable and allowed to be creative, efficiency goes up and work gets done faster.
In order to take advantage of all the strengths the Millennials can bring into your association, it’s essential to incorporate some flexibility into your culture. For many managers, when an employee is the first one in the office and the last one to leave, it is a sign of a hard worker. Unfortunately that’s no longer an accurate indication of a valuable employee. It’s about quality over quantity. The idea of a strict nine to five schedule makes little sense to a Millennial who is most productive in the afternoon than at the crack of dawn. If you can’t allow your employees to start late, work with them on creating somewhat of a flexible work schedule that allows them to be in some control. Perhaps they would prefer to work an extra hour Monday through Thursday so that they can take off early on Fridays. What’s important is that you have the discussion with them, and remind yourself not to be a micromanager. They have a job to do, and how they get that done is on them. You’re their support system, mentor, and leader. They should be comfortable coming to you to work with you on anything from a schedule to a major problem they need to solve.
At the end of the day, no matter what size your association, it’s time you drop the “that’s how we’ve always done it” attitude. Contrary to popular belief, Millennials are well informed, highly passionate, and motivated individuals. The organizations that are able to adapt their environment to appeal to Millennials sooner rather than later are the ones that will succeed in the future.