These days, you can’t scan the interwebs without seeing an article telling you how different these darn millennials are. Lazy. Demanding. Requiring instant gratification. Hand-holding. Trophies for everyone. Soooo hard to manage. Soooooo unlike everyone who’s ever worked before them.
Well, we’re not here to weigh in on that debate. Because you know what? Too bad. Love ‘em or leave ‘em, if you need a workforce (and we’re guessing you do), you know who’s in your candidate pool? Millennials.
You know what else? Millennials are now old enough to be starting – even running! – their own companies.
So we say: instead of bemoaning their quirks, why not use what millennials bring? Why not take all of those millennials’ supposed difficulties and flip them on their heads? Why not – gasp – embrace these peculiarities, using them to improve your business?
Here are some suggestions for how.
1. Millennials in the Workplace Crave Flexible Work Schedules
Above all, it seems millennials like their flexibility. They’re happy to do the work, but they don’t like to be constrained to a 9 to 5 schedule.
So why make them? In fact, why make anybody? Unless your business is one that involves inherent time restrictions (like you have foreign clients with whom you need to communicate in person), why not simply evaluate your employees on the quality of their work? Studies do show that when people work from home, they get moreproductive.
If you set clear goals, then you can give your employees the autonomy to do their jobs.
2. Provide Regular Feedback
Unlike older workers, millennials like to know how they’re doing. All the time. Most millennials say they’d prefer way more check-ins with their bosses than they get now.
How whiny! Except … what’s actually wrong with making sure employees know how they’re doing? Doesn’t being on the same page benefit everybody? Isn’t that way better than letting employees blunder through the darkness, not knowing if they’re working as well as they can be? Performance reviews can get finicky, but effective feedback leads to actionable and valuable insights.
So make regular feedback a part of every manager’s job description. Make sure they keep track of how their employees are doing, and that they give those employees helpful advice. Don’t think of it as hand-holding; think of it as widening your current channels of communication.
3. Make People’s Jobs Matter
Most of us want our jobs to feel purposeful. The difference is that millennials in the workplace are less willing to accept work that doesn’t feel like it matters.
What coddled naiveté! Except … don’t you want your organization to be an ethical place? Don’t you want your business to make a difference in the world?
Here’s an idea: let employees know how their jobs fit into your business’ wider mission. If you don’t have a mission statement, draft one! Figure out how your organization does good in the world, and emphasize that. Millennials have different motivational factors compared to previous generations. Make sure everyone feels like they’re a part of something bigger.
4. Utilize Social Media
If there’s anything millennials in the workplace know about, it’s social media. It’s been a part of their lives for as long as they can remember, and they’re expert users.
How shallow! Except … if the millennials who work for you are social media experts, that means their friends are social media experts, and that means that the consumers of your company’s services – or, more likely, the future consumers of your company’s services – are themselves likely social media experts.
What are we saying? Use your millennials’ expertise to build a future client base. Learn what those youngsters pay attention to, and what they don’t. Figure out – before it’s too late! – how to generate a real social media presence.
Your future business will thank you.
5. Change Things Up
Distracted, inveterate multi-taskers, unable to focus: we’ve all heard these descriptions. It may be true: millennials are less interested in simply working on one thing.
How fickle! Except … as it turns out, change is good for all sorts of reasons. It keeps you engaged. It helps your brain. It makes you more excited about coming in to work.
So why not change things up? Make sure people aren’t stuck doing the same thing, over and over. Embrace new technologies that Millennials love. Let your employees stretch: force them to learn new skills, or to tackle new kinds of projects, or to practice doing slightly different jobs. This keeps your workplace exciting, and, ultimately, gives you more coverage for any one task.
Michelle Kiss is a digital marketing specialist in San Francisco who focuses on employee productivity, business process management, and marketing automation. She deeply believes that a balanced diet is chocolate in both hands.