Engaging Millennials at work- What makes them tick

Change is the only constant – We live in a world where the social contract between employer and employee has broken down. Careers are no longer created within one company, but across several organizations, hierarchies have been replaced by networks, products have been replaced by solutions, and the traditionalists and boomers are gradually being replaced by millennials.

Millennials are the most studied and talked about generation to date. This means that although we know a lot about them and their characteristics, they also get a lot of labels thrown at them that are simply not quite true. But before we get to that, do you really understand who these millennials are? Or are you loosely using the term for any and every young individual at your workplace. If you think of all millennials as college kids (18 – 22), then you are thinking of a stage in life and not a generation. Millennials are out of college and that life stage is now dominated by Gen Z.

Millennials are generally described as those born in the 1980s and 1990s, which means the oldest members of the generation—also known as Generation Y—began entering the workforce in the late 1990s and early 2000s. According to the Pew Research Center (Source – Millennials are the largest workforce blog)  Millennials surpassed all other generations in 2016 as the largest portion of the workforce. As of 2017, 56 million members of the workforce were born between 1981 and 1996, compared to Generation X, which accounted for about 53 million, and baby boomers, who accounted for about 41 million.
As of 2019, the workforce breakdown by age looks like this:

  • Baby Boomers: Baby boomers were born between 1944 and 1964. They’re current between 55-75 years old (76 million in U.S.)
  • Gen X: Gen X was born between 1965 – 1979 and are currently between 40-54 years old (82 million people in U.S.)
  • Gen Y or Millennials: Gen Y, or Millennials, were born between 1980 and 1994. They are currently between 25-39 years old.
  • Gen Z: Gen Z is the newest generation to be named and were born between 1995 and 2015. They are currently between 4-24 years old.

While most generations are connected to certain stereotypes and cliches, it’s important to remember that employees still are individuals and should not be judged solely on the basis of when they were born. Millennials see employment as second nature, however still they find themselves surrounded by multiple stigmas attached to their attitude at work. That being said, engaging millennials still remains a challenge for many leaders today! So how can you better harness the power of the Millennials — and, in fact, every employee — you lead? The answer is quite simple? CHANGE – Adapt> Improvise>Overcome. But even before you get to that, it is important to understand what drives the millennials and what are their expectations from the workplace. There are some measurable differences in when and how millennials were raised and educated, and understanding these differences can make it easier to manage them in the workforce.

Why companies are struggling to engage millennials and what do they expect

Frequent Job Change

Do millennials tend to bolt their employers for a better job situation? Millennials are unlike any other generation in history. They are masters of social media. They are in tune with societal trends. And, above all, they are happy to walk away from their occupation in the hopes of finding a company that’s “a better fit.”

Traditional View: The previous generations saw employment as a source of income and a means to an end. They regarded career growth as a function to be accomplished within their existing organization.

Millennial View: Millennials see employment as second nature. Needless to say their expectations from the activity are very different from the traditionalists. They are not suppressed by responsibilities (familial or otherwise) and see employment as a form of personal growth. If they do not see their employment meeting this need, they tend to switch. That being said, it would be a faux pas to assume that millenials lack loyalty and have compromised work ethics

Millennials are looking to grow

Millennials seek constant growth. Bare in mind that their idea of growth is far more panoramic than that of previous generations. They enjoy challenges and seek appropriate rewards. For them growth doesn’t necessarily mean getting a promotion or securing a corner office. They see it as a form of personal development and feel that it should be should be routinely addressed by management. If your Millennials feel they are not making progress in their own personal development, they will soon become disconnected and seek opportunities elsewhere.

Traditional View: Growth has always been a driving factor regardless of the generation. However the previous generations saw growth mostly in the form of monetary remuneration. Appraisals and bonuses and even gratuity benefits were sought after as a metric of growth. Personal growth in job roles held, little relevance to career growth and job switch due to growth was relatively lower.

Millennials View: Millennials are rejecting traditional rules about career development and work culture. Professional growth for them goes hand in hand with personal growth. Millennials are looking to grow in their careers and require a higher level of engagement.When they don’t see their needs being met, they are perfectly comfortable finding employment elsewhere. than previous generations.

Traditional Management styles won’t work

Management styles of yesteryear don’t appeal to millennials. They are looking for managers who act more like coaches than conventional bosses. Millennials want managers who can recognize their value on a personal level and help them identify and develop their strengths.A Gallup study (add source link) suggested that 55% percent of millennials are not engaged at work to some degree—the highest percentage of any generation, by far. But as leaders , you must ask yourself, “Are we giving millennial employees a compelling reason to stay?”

Traditional View: Boomers belong to a time when most bosses had a “my way or the highway” management style. They have become used to playing hardball and as a result some of them struggle with concepts like empowerment and collaboration.

Millennial View: Millennials want managers that dare to care. They want mentorship and a healthy and benefiting relationship with their managers. The best managers connect deeply with their Millennial employees by paying attention to what’s important to them. Nicole Cunningham, senior manager of employee experience at Knot Standard, and a Millennial herself, feels that managers are struggling to engage Millennials because “they are failing to focus on what motivates the individual. Although Millennials enjoy working in groups and working collectively with the team, they are individually motivated.

Room for failure

One of the most important elements of effectively managing Millennials is allowing them to experience failure and learn from their mistakes in an environment where they are encouraged to experiment and take calculated risks.

Traditional View: Most traditionalists will become uncomfortable just reading about this. They primarily operate on the motive of perfection and expect nothing less from the generations further. However this puts tremendous pressure, especially on the new workforce who are still trying to get hold of their jobs and gain experience.

Millennial View: Millennials appreciate the opportunity where they are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. As a leader we must understand that they belong to a generation that believes in experimentative learning and thrives best when they are in an environment that allows the same. Many employees today feel the threat of job loss or pay cuts or any other form of penalization if they make mistakes at work. This fear and insecurity deters them from taking risks and flourishing. Leaders need to understand this fundamental concept of insecurity prevalent among the millennials and act accordingly to address it.

Flexibility to generate multiple revenue streams

The thing Millennials are best at is perhaps the trait for which they are most criticized: their ambition. For this pack of dreamers, their ambition might actually be their best asset. Millennials will never stop dreaming, and so as long as they turn their thoughts into action, the sky’s the limit.

Traditional View: They come from a generation that believed that focus was the key to success. They strongly believe that focusing on one job and excelling at it. This view is different from the millennials as their innate needs and expectations from their jobs are different. However this approach is great too and has worked brilliantly too and we have the years of success and progress to prove that.

Millennial View: Millennials strongly believe that one should not place all their eggs in the same basket. They genuinely believe in the concept of generating multiple revenue streams which guarantees them psychological satisfaction of better financial security. Besides that they are master at multitasking and wish to contribute to more than just one cause, hence they have a need to moonlight along with their jobs which gives them satisfaction and a sense of achievement.

A Paycheck isn’t enough

Unlike previous generations, a reliable paycheck isn’t a good enough reason to stick around at a company. Millennials also need a sense of purpose and to feel as though they connect with the values of their organization. When a company has a weak culture, millennials have no intentions of sticking around. The opposite is also true. 71% of millennials who strongly agree that they know what their organization stands for say they plan to stay with their company for at least another year.

Traditional View: Traditionalist always believed in working hard in silence. They treat employment as a means to an end thus making them a less demanding workforce. They are easily engaged with monetary incentives, however they are employees afterall and they seek recognition too.

Millennial View: As mentioned earlier millennials need a sense of purpose and need to feel belonged. They seek emotional and mental satisfaction from the work they do. Hence to engage this unique set of workforce population , just a paycheck will never be enough. It is advised to engage them with recognition and reward them for their actions and good work. They seek praise and appreciation for their efforts and dedicated time and when acknowledged they feel connected to the greater good of the organization

Let’s Buzzz allows peer-to-peer recognition and gives both millennials and traditionalists as well as their leaders a unified platform to recognize productivity and great efforts, because we all love being recognized don’t we.

Millennials are a force to be reckoned with. They are smart ,intelligent, tech savvy and have a keen eye for detail. They have been in the limelight for being different for many years now. True they have a unique set of expectations from their employers, but with the increasing number of millennials entering and making breakthrough progress in every field of operation, it is only fair to start being considerate and mindful of their needs if we are to retain this unique workforce in our organization.

Book a demo with Let’s Buzzz now and see how we consistently co-create an engaging culture with you so you experience lower millennial workforce turnover. Let’s Buzz for the Millennials!

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