Millennials are typically those born between 1980s and the early 2000s. They have caused a global revolution in the ways in which businesses function and workplaces run. They are causing a complete change in the world of work and workplace culture, both positive and negative. In many cases, other generations in the workplace are still trying to figure out what makes them tick.
The previous generations, called Generation X and preceded by Baby Boomers, are all currently in their late 30s to early 60s. Many people of these generations are managers, leaders and mentors to millennials. Since there is a sea change in the way millenials think, work and live, both Baby Boomers and Gen X can face certain challenges while working with millennials.
Have you seen Millenials that are stuck in their comfort zone or not performing as expected? Being a millennial myself, I know all it takes is the right management style, challenging work and industry standard benefits, along with some careful mentoring to transform a millennial into a high-performing achiever at work.
Ready for a better way to deal with the generation gap and its effect on workplace culture? Read on for some helpful hints:
5 Ways in which Millennials Will Transform Workplace Culture
Millennials are fun to be around because they are full of new ideas, are dynamic and believe in ‘failing fast’ or pivoting – in the event of making a mistake, they cut their losses, learn from them and try out a new way of doing something. They believe in living life to the fullest, and have a never-say-never attitude, which they bring with them to the workplace.
Here are a few millennial-induced changes that affect the traditional workplace culture:
1. Hop, Skip and Jump
By age 35, about 25% of millennial employees have had around five jobs (as per CareerBuilder). Millennials are job-hoppers because they don’t compromise with their career. Work forms an important component of their lives, and millennials hop from job to job till they find the company that treats them right, gives them a great salary and perks, provides them with work that is innovative and challenging, and which leverages their skills and strengths while giving them opportunities to grow.
2. Recognition to Win
Money is important for us to survive, but we also need to feel recognized as contributing members to our organization. While this means being paid at competitive levels, it also means getting recognized for our job performance. Although recognition might not be the sole reason why millennials take up a certain job, it is definitely an important one to help them stay with an organization for a longer duration.
3. Millennials Need Greater Flexibility and Transparency
Work is only a part of life for millennials, and does not dominate their lives. Most millennials would prefer to work for a company which encourages them to lead a healthy life outside of the four walls of the office, and offers benefits, such as working from home or flexible hours.
Millennials value jobs which offer them insights into the organization – in terms of its vision and direction, and decisions are made and passed down, etc. This helps them understand their role in the bigger picture.
4. How Millennials Perceive ‘Good Leadership’
Millennials prefer working with leaders who seek continuous feedback because they feel that leaders need to hear all sides to the story before a decision is made. They prefer a workplace culture which is open to feedback since they need continuous feedback on their work as well.
A leader who accepts unbiased and honest feedback is interested in hearing what employees have to say and values their opinion. I have had experiences with both – leaders who encourage feedback and leaders who aren’t interested. It creates mutual respect when a leader in the organization looks you in the eye and says, ‘I trust your judgment and I want your feedback’.
5. Automation: A Game of Chess for Millennials
Automation and artificial intelligence will be a reality for millennials, but since we have grown up with technology all around us, we rely heavily upon that to make our daily work much easier. This also means that we tend to lose patience with processes and domains which may involve manual work or which may not be efficient enough.
Half the millennial population surveyed by Deloitte believes that automation will give them more time to spend on creative and value-add activities. Automation will help them express their creativity more by helping them find newer ways to do things.
Automation will make it necessary for millennials to pick up new skills such as social and emotional skills, creativity, and high-level cognitive capabilities, as captured in a recent McKinsey report.
Millennials – The New Normal
I’ll admit it – working with millennials might be different. The working styles, attitude towards work, relationship with management, career growth and milestones are completely different. So, it’s only natural that the world of work is currently scratching its head trying to figure out how to work with millennials. This is where defining a new norm and thereby a new workplace culture comes in:
The Engagement We Desire
The millennial workforce is ambitious, and they want to learn more. According to Gallup analytics, millennials “rank opportunities to learn and grow in a job above all other considerations” when applying for a new job or deciding whether to stay in the current job or move. They also feel more engaged with the organization if they feel that the organization is ready to invest in them and in improving their skills.
Trust v/s Shackles
Where do you draw the line between guidance and a lack of trust? What some managers may perceive as guidance may be misinterpreted as a lack of trust by millennial employees. A workplace culture with open communication between millennials and their managers, and a healthy amount of trust on both sides, can help millennials feel more responsible for their work.
Continuous Feedback? Yes Please!
For millennials, traditional forms of annual appraisals may be counterproductive since they limit feedback-giving sessions to once or twice a year. Continuous feedback allows managers to give their millennial employees feedback on an ongoing basis. This helps keep the feedback relevant and provides an incentive for the millennial to work on it and improve.
For more on integrating continuous feedback into your workplace culture, click here.
Millennials, especially when they’re starting out, come to work with a lot of positivity. They want to feel heard, make a difference, and put in a good day’s work. Knowingly or unknowingly, their managers can sometimes stifle their creativity. This can happen if they do not give millennials enough autonomy, which reduces their positivity over time.
A childhood friend of mine is a graphic designer. She was absorbed by an ad agency right after graduation.
After working with them for a year, she realized that she did not feel respected on the job, and did not have autonomy. Instead, she had a manager who insisted on finding fault with all her work. This stifled her creativity and reduced her positive, can-do attitude over time, leading her to look for employment elsewhere. A positive attitude is essential to maintain harmony at the workplace. Organizations are now understanding this, and finding new ways to keep employees happy at work.
Lend Us Your Ears
When your millennial employee has a brainwave about a new product, or they feel that something needs changing, listen to them. Lend them a patient ear. Their fresh perspective and new ideas might help you see the same things a little differently.
Create a Fun, Employee-Centered Workplace
Give them a healthy work-life balance. Allow them to lead a life outside of work, and they will stay loyal to you and your company. Promote fun at work, dress up in crazy costumes one day, bring different cuisines to work and have a potluck another day, have a spontaneous karaoke session during a coffee break, celebrate festivals, donate to a good cause together – pick whichever aspect of work culture you like and switch it up!
All of this will help millennial employees become more engaged, and enable them to build a social network within the organization. A healthy workplace culture will keep them more connected and willing to go the extra mile.
What This Boils Down To
We’re young, but we’ve lived a life too. At the tender age of 24 (or 25, 26, or even 30), millennials, more than any generation before them, face soaring levels of competition, an increase in anxiety and depression, higher debt, large student loans and fewer social connections. As every generation before them, they continue to question everything about their lives and existence (believe me, we do that A LOT), and are still struggling to find their way in life.
In addition to this, they also have the responsibility of preparing for the next generation to come – Generation Z ( also known as iGeneration, or Post-Millennials). This generation comes with its own characteristics and peculiarities, and once again will change the dynamics at work, and affect the workplace culture. By coaching and mentoring millennials now, the previous generations can help them prepare to become the leaders of tomorrow.
At Sproutlogix, not only do we work with millennials, but our workplace culture encourages them to reach their highest potential. We have also designed our products in ways which cater to the needs of today’s multi-generational organizations. Our products help organizations with employee engagement and development, and talent management (which spans across generations!).