A lot has changed about the workforce in the last decade or so. Businesses have reached a point where they no longer place the greatest focus on attracting and retaining customers but on finding and holding the right employees.
The Millennials, born from 1980 to 2000 make up the majority of the workers and they have unique traits that are not found in the generations preceding them nor in the one that is only now entering adulthood.
They are surprisingly the most social and the most isolated generation as they spend a lot of their time connected to each other but rarely face to face. A study by Pew Research Center shows that 80% have sent a text message in the last 24 hours, compared to 63% of Generation X-ers and only 35% of Baby Boomers.
Keeping Millennial employees engaged in training and the organization
The fact that they are constantly on their gadgets does not make them less qualified or less productive so it is important to figure out their unique behavioural code in order to keep them happy and engaged with your organization. Here are a few ideas on how exactly to do this:
Give them constant feedback
One of the misconceptions about Millennials is that their need for self-direction and autonomy means that they don’t care for and are unresponsive to feedback. While they indeed like to be given the opportunity to make their own decisions, work at their own pace and if possible select the projects that are of most interest to them, they also require constant feedback.
Their parents raised them in a rather democratic manner, asking for their opinions, allowing them to experiment and constantly encouraging them to be better. Furthermore, they grew up in the golden era of online gaming and the main characteristic that has, the one thing that makes it so engaging and sometimes even addictive is the immediate feed-back.
While playing online you immediately find out if you got enough points, passed the level, made it to the top of the leader board and so on. Instant gratification is very sought after by them. Of course Millennials are by now all grown up and know the difference between work and play but the psychological need is still there and managers need to take it into account.
Harness the potential of their technological savviness
Millennials have a profound attachment to their smartphones. A recent study found that 30% said they couldn’t go more than a few hours without their phones. Indeed they may prove a distraction but only if companies do not encourage their usage in everyday work.
Having everything connected so that programs will be accessible and work from a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone will ensure they don’t get frustrated if they want to check something from home, on their commute or even on their coffee break. It is not an imposition on their personal lives as long as they have a choice of whether they want to log in or not.
Furthermore, the fact they are online all the time and are enjoy multimedia has great potential for learning and development. Implementing a state of the art LMS with an extensive course library will allow Millennials to learn what they need to in order to become more efficient in their work and personal lives.
Since they are so familiar with online gaming, including game-like incentives will increase their engagement and lead to an overall better performance throughout the company.
I have mentioned before that this generation is social and isolated at the same time. Their reluctance to interact face to face does not mean they work better alone. Actually, an IBM study proved quite the opposite.
Over half of Millennial employees said that they do better when they have to work in teams than when they engage in solitary projects. This makes sense since they are so used to online communities, they place great value on the opinions of their peers when they need to make a buying decision and they enjoy social media.
The key to setting up successful teams is to acknowledge and applaud diversity while making sure the common ground is also clearly seen. As long as the company constantly reminds employees of its goals and its values, all the while living up to them, people will start from there and work together in a harmonious manner.
Their differences, on the other hand, will ensure the teams have the potential to adapt and innovate in today’s dynamic and demanding business environment.
These are three important aspects to be taken into consideration when it comes to engaging Millennials. It’s, of course, only scraping the surface since they are a very complex generation that has yet to show all that they are capable of. For further insight on what kind of leadership they require, I leave you with the words of Simon Sinek:
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.