Gen Y culture is fully integrating into the workforce. And as they enter their careers, millennials, like every generation before them, will carry their philosophies and standards with them into their chosen industries.
As the generation that was raised in the Tech Bubble and given the strongest push to participate in higher education, many millennials enter the workplace with knowledgeable skills, ambitious ideas, and a hunger to keep pushing society forward. Yet, the “millennial” stigma still depicts them as entitled employees. Shunning Gen Y, and the emerging Gen Z, could deprive your company of new ideas and a level of growth that takes you to new heights.
If you see the potential in your fresh crop of employees, you’re probably wondering how to make them a more cohesive part of your business. Millennials believe heavily in healthy company cultures. Fostering that sort of environment not only helps them, but is an effective boost for your entire staff.
Finding the “I” in Team
Millennials understand that money can’t buy happiness in the way that people imagine it. A byproduct of that mentality is a growing sense of camaraderie in the trenches. They value community. Most millennials say that building workplace friendships motivates them to perform better, and that they actually find more enjoyment in their work when surrounded by positive relationships.
Many believe that working collaboratively towards a mission or standard that they can be proud of carries more impact and worth than a cutthroat environment. They go home feeling good about how they spent their time, rather than feeling overly stressed or concerned about watching another’s progress while they fall behind. Celebrating one another’s victories fosters better productivity, especially if it’s a team win.
That’s not to say that millennials don’t appreciate sportsmanship in the office. Certain job categories, like sales, require competition as a fundamental part of career growth. And recognizing individual accomplishments is still important. Be aware of these exceptions, as you don’t want to diminish efficiency. But for the most part, even in competitive roles, encouraging employees to work together produces more satisfying results.
Constructive criticism is in high demand. Millennials appreciate consistent feedback on their performance in the workplace. As a group that tends to adopt mentors rather quickly, they implement frequent notes into their efforts with a fast turnaround instead of waiting for reports and reviews.
Part of this stems from the idea that check-ins mean their work is valued. When an employee feels validated in such a way, they have a greater chance of engaging and being more productive.
And millennials can take the heat. They have a desire to improve their performance, so feedback is sought after often. So long as said feedback doesn’t turn into outright bashing, no one likes that. Make sure input is productive, constructive and can be implemented, rather than a negative grade with no explanation as to how they can do better next time.
Work and Play
Millennials experience the world in a way that past generations couldn’t thanks to the infinite amount of information at their fingertips. Because of this “plugged in” lifestyle, most millennials aren’t opposed to always being “on” when it comes to work. As employees, they are accessible via email, text, and video calling. The traditional 9 to 5 workplace has become mostly a thing of the past, and a lot of Gen Y is okay with it.
That said, and almost inexplicably because of that very lifestyle, millennials demand a healthy work-life balance from their jobs. If they’re expected to exist with a blurred line between work and play, why would they not ask for the best of both worlds? When seeking employment, millennials look for employers who offer flexibility, not only in work hours and PTO, but also on the clock, where they can learn and develop their skills to be genuine assets to the company.
Millennials are conscious of “burnout” and do their best to avoid reaching a point where work becomes detrimental to their wellbeing. Productivity is directly correlated to an employee’s energy, rest, and general health. As a generation that wants to contribute towards a better world, most millennials don’t want to become an inefficient employee. A healthy balance between work and play protects them from falling into that pit of uselessness and allows them to maintain meaning in their work.
Another way to protect employees across all generations is to be sure they are a behavioral match to their job and environment. Hiring a cautious, risk-averse individual to boldly develop and close business is a recipe for mutual frustration, low productivity and perhaps a quick end to the employee/employer relationship. The same can be said for hiring an aggressive, big-picture visionary as your next teller or member service rep. Supportive, data-intensive tasks could drive this personality type to move on, leaving a trail of errors and disorganization behind.
Matching new hires to the demands of the job is a win/win scenario that supports the mental and physical well-being of your employees and the long-term success of the business. And incorporating a behavioral assessment into your management, engagement and selection strategies shows millennials you care about creating a positive workplace culture.
At the end of the day, millennials are going to infiltrate every office at some point and they will be looking to break norms and barriers where they can. As a new generation of go-getters and innovators, they have a desire to leave a positive mark. Providing a workplace where they can thrive and reach their goals can only help your business’ future. Think of it as an investment. Not only in Gen Y, but those before and after them as well. Implementing “millennial-friendly” workplace strategies benefits everyone.