The reality about millennials in the workplace is a truth so bold and unvarnished that no respectable news outlet would dare to publish it: We are among the hardest working members of any office we enter. That’s about it. A little too boring for those respectable publications, apparently.
Ignore the majority of what you read about our generation’s work habits. Those reports, as damning as they may seem at first, are generally a higher-order version of shouting “kids these days!” from a porch chair. Every new generation of workers faces suspicion from their older colleagues. For businesses built largely on the strength of millennial work, like Grovo, the truth comes out pretty quickly. We are a driven, industrious group who possess irreplaceable digital fluency. Yes, many of us want more out of a career than just a 401(k). How entitled!
Instead of griping, intelligent businesses are figuring out how to attach an extracurricular value proposition to the work that millennials perform. Partly this is out of necessity: large companies in particular couldn’t function without a cohort of young employees willing to work long hours. Millennial employees, for our part, want to feel proud of what we’re doing, and we want to feel a sense of advancement. So it’s in everyone’s interest to make the office a rewarding place for millennials to work. If you’re looking for a way to spark a fire inside your young workers, read on.
5 Steps to Better Millennials
Answer your company’s “why” question. Why do you do what you do? What gets you excited to come to work every day? Millennials understand that the world is much larger than the company they work for, so it helps if the company does too. Give your company a mission that’s wider than your balance sheet.
Keep them growing with skills training. One of the most consistently reported motivators for millennials is improving their job prospects through skills training. Just like they know that the world is bigger than their office walls, millennials see their careers stretching far beyond their time at our current companies. They’re happy to put in time today if they know that they’re learning skills that will help them tomorrow.
Offer aggressive career advancement opportunities. Learning new skills is great, but what’s even better is having a chance to apply them in challenging new situations. Give competent young employees the chance to advance quickly into new positions that they need a little time to grow into. This doesn’t have to be a big gamble. Try making them managers working under someone else, or do what we at Grovo do: promote in pairs. A young person’s career is a lot like traveling in a car: you feel acceleration more than cruising.
Be direct in giving them feedback. There’s a stereotype about us millennials that we are fragile creatures who pout at any sign of scolding. I personally see the exact opposite in my peers. We crave feedback that will make us better at our jobs. Just in case you’re afraid that your young employees are the kind that hate being given an unfavorable appraisal, address it right away: lay it on ‘em…respectfully. If you’re hiring right, then you’ve got a group of talented people who will be eager to implement your advice next time.
Let them spearhead their own ideas. If one of your millennial employees comes up with an idea that’s not half bad, give them some room to play with it. Nothing is more exciting to a young person than being given a green light to build something of their own. At this stage of our careers, we’re less interested in personal legacy than just building something that can be useful to the organization. Seize that opportunity and use your young innovators as a resource for the company.
To large organizations from Wall Street banks to the the federal government, young people are an ideal source of energy. They work long hours, they take directions, and, if properly inspired, are eager to serve the organization. Some older managers may gripe at the fact that they require any inspiration; “this is what you’re paid to do” should be the ultimate motivation, they say. But to say that ignores the reality of why millennials have a reputation as wanderlusting searchers: we know there’s a bigger world out there. Show us how our company is making a difference to everything out there, and how we can help make it better in here, and there’s nothing we won’t do to make it happen.