First you must know, I am a Millennial. Born in the 80’s, I grew up starstruck with NSYNC and The Backstreet Boys. My childhood TV had well over 13 channels. I carried a T-Mobile flip phone to high school, and wrote research papers that referenced articles found on the Internet. Why do I tell you this? To provide perspective.
Many have called my generation “overeducated,” “entitled” and even “narcissistic”. While I can see how these stereotypes exist, in my opinion, they truly missed the mark. Let me explain.
Recently I was asked to participate on a panel, “Meet the Millennials” at the Utah PRSA luncheon. I sat with two other professional colleagues and together we answered questions from our audience. As the questions came, we each pitched in our two cents and I began to notice common phrases, trigger words and themes in our “different” replies. The following reflect those commonalities. Note, there are 78 million Millennials in the United States alone. With that said, I do not suppose to understand them all, but I do feel these biased millennial musings will be helpful.
WHAT YOUR MILLENNIAL EMPLOYEES VALUE IN THE WORKPLACE
Provide opportunity for growth and success.
Millennials grew up in the era when technology made the world small. Information was readily available, explaining why Millennials, more than previous generations, crave results and answers. For them, change is not a scary thing, but a way of life. Change equals growth. This drives the Millennial mindset and drive to succeed.
Value your Millennial employee’s enthusiasm and new ideas. Compromise, teach and guide them in the right direction. Test and challenge them. Mentor and be open to their mentorship.
Always be open and honest.
Loyalty and honesty are big triggers. According to a recent Millennial Branding research study, more than half of Millennials surveyed said honesty was the most important quality of being a good leader. Remember, Millennials trust a Twitter stream more than a newspaper. To them, a Twitter stream provides 10 different, usually overly honest, perspectives to which the truth can be determined. Millennials are accustomed to instantaneous feedback and open door policies.
When providing constructive feedback, be open. Millennials appreciate raw, real, transparent information. Be kind in your delivery, of course, but don’t beat around the bush. Millennials crave success, so your feedback and involvement is much appreciated.
Break the boundaries between work life and personal life.
Almost half of Millennials will choose workplace flexibility over pay, according to the Forbes article, “Why Millennials are Ending the 9 to 5.” With increased technology and innovation, the traditional workplace is changing and in many instances Millennials are leading the front. A Millennial wants to feel as comfortable at work as she/he is at home.
Does this mean your Millennial employees are lazy or entitled because they want comfort and flexibility in the workplace? Some say yes. But I would argue differently. Millennials have blurred lines when it comes to work and home life. Rather than a 9-5 at a job that pays the bills, a Millennial is looking for employment at a company they can feel ownership of and be loyal to.
Take time for civic engagement.
Millennials tend to be very aware of the wide world around them and aspire to positively affect change. A recent Cone study surveyed Millennials where 80% of respondents volunteer regularly (weekly, monthly or annually). The study also found Millennials are more likely to trust and follow, purchase products of and work for companies that value and practice social responsibility.
Find service and outreach opportunities that meld with PR and marketing tactics. Involve your Millennial employees in structuring social responsibility into your company. If civic engagement matters to them, it should matter to the organization.
If you take anything away from my musing, know this: professional Millennials are continuous learners, energetic team players and bold collaborators. Gain their trust, and they will reach for the stars and achievement more than you, their employer, expected.