How Millennials Reshape Your WorkplaceThursday, February 12, 2015
Part 5 of the blog series Adapting Your Chamber For The Millennial Generation.
By now, you’ve seen that the rise of the Millennial generation will have a dramatic impact on our industry and our world. Chambers of Commerce, government, and communities will all be reshaped as the “young professionals” of today become the executives of tomorrow.
In this final post, I want to explore how Millennials are already bringing changes to their workplace. This is the change we are most likely to see and feel in our daily lives, and it is happening whether we like it or not. Successful employers will recognize these changes, adapt in ways that make sense for them, and thrive as a result.
But, one last time, let me make an important disclaimer: generalizations about generations are just as fraught as generalizations about workplaces. My comments are not meant to represent the reality of every office or facility. Instead, I hope to illuminate some of the trends that can help keep your members up-to-speed with the workforce they need to succeed.
Facilitated by the rapid development of new technology and gadgets, the ways we communicate at and about our work change so fast that it’s hard to keep up! But communication is key to how Millennials are redefining the workplace.
Speak the Language
Words matter to Millennials. They don’t want to “sit on committees,” but they love being on the team and getting a win! Likewise, give thought to the titles used when recruiting new employees. Don’t fall into the trap of simply using the terms you’ve always used. Get creative and descriptive with titles to reflect the skills you want and the work you need done.
Another consideration when hiring is how you present the benefit package. Health insurance plans are always going to be complex, but perks like paid time off, flexible schedules, office amenities, and phone/gym/clothing allowances can be framed in a way that reflects the lifestyle of the recruit you want to attract. Choose your wording carefully!
In the end, Millennials want to feel ownership of their work. In his insightful book “Drive,” Daniel Pink explains that people want three things from work: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. The surest path to success these days is to point the way to the destination and hand over the keys.
Know Your Audience
One common criticism of Millennial employees is that they don’t demonstrate the same loyalty as workers from previous generations. This might be true for some, but office policy and culture can influence that too. Managers who provide stairways to greater responsibility and doorways to better opportunities within the company will keep their young employees wanting more.
Another way to retain a skilled young employee is to recognize their ability to be productive nearly anywhere. Empowering people to work when and where they are at their best will lead to the best results for the company.
Another way managers can cultivate a feeling of ownership among younger employees is by involving them in the decision-making process (when appropriate). This is especially effective when charting the path of a project or process for which the employee will have responsibility. Pursuing a goal they helped to set will contribute substantially to their desire to reach it.
It’s About Culture
Intellectual debates will rage for decades trying to decipher why the Millennial generation is so attuned to giving back. Generational cycles? Childhood pampering? Who knows. What’s important is that you can motivate and retain younger workers if you understand this simple fact.
Both inside and outside the office, Millennials have a strong desire to give back. Scheduling time to volunteer as a team or giving time off to perform community service as individuals are two ways to demonstrate a company’s social conscience.
In fact, such programs can be pitched as “benefits” of employment alongside health insurance. Young employees view benefits such as these differently, and weigh the trade-offs in new ways. They might take on more work if the assignment contributes to a non-profit campaign or advances a social cause they can feel good about.
The Millennial Generation, possibly the most discussed and dissected generation ever, is already influencing the office, the board room, city hall, and beyond. Your Chamber and your members will encounter this influence among suppliers, customers, and community leaders. If you are ready to meet them where they are, by speaking the language and respecting their preferences, your organization is poised for success in the 21st century.
By preparing for the changes that are coming, you will be able to leverage the immense influence and talent these workers have. Taking this generational change seriously could be the best decision you ever make as a leader. I hope I’ve helped you understand the challenge and equipped you to confront it with aplomb.