There are few greater challenges for modern companies than managing the current dynamic of generations within the workplace.
In the past, many companies did not have to worry about major generational conflict at work: seniority and experience reigned supreme, while newer employees entered the pipeline, worked their way up, and were then rewarded with higher positions, pay, benefits and perks.
The Younger Generation will Comprise 75% of the U.S. Workforce in 15 Years
My, what a difference a few decades make!
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, millennials have become the largest generation in today’s U.S. workforce and are projected to comprise about 75 percent in just 15 years.
Not only are millennials a massive cohort, they also have very different ideas about how and why they work when compared to earlier generations.
Despite their rapid movement toward retirement — within the next decade, a majority of Baby Boomers will be of retirement age — boomers still hold a large percentage of leadership positions, especially in more “traditional” industries (i.e. manufacturing, utility and power, government, etc.).
So, how can more senior managers and leaders relate to and draw the most out of their younger employees? Here are 4 tips for relating to this young generation:
1. Don’t be a boss, be a coach.
Like many of my peers, I was introduced to league- and team-based sports early in my life and participated in them religiously. Thinking back, I can still remember every coach I had and their impact on my performance and attitude.The good ones pulled performance out of me, were encouraging but firm, tough but fair, and provided guidance about how to do the “job” well. Because of their influence, I learned to love the sports they coached.The bad ones, however, played favorites, dismissed questions or concerns, didn’t listen, and were arrogant or hateful, and my perception of the sport was diminished.
The No. 1 reason a millennial will leave their job is due to a bad manager. If companies want to reduce their turnover costs and retain millennial talent, managers need to be coaches — not bosses.
2. Set your values and live by them.
Millennials have a strong inclination toward aligning justice and fairness across the various aspects of their lives. They want their work to be meaningful and make a difference — and to not just collect a paycheck every two weeks.
There is little forgiveness for companies that act unethically or hypocritically. Not only are they likely to lose their millennial talent, but their brand might also be blasted across social media and be publicly shamed.
If companies don’t have their values in order, or they haven’t communicated them to their employees, there’s no time like the present. If such corporate values are already in place, for the love of God live by them! Hypocrisy is an extremely toxic corporate value for millennials.
3. Create opportunities for development
The average tenure for millennials in any one job is two years. Yep, you read that right — that millennial employee you just spent a lot of resources to hire at the beginning of last year might not be with your company for the holiday party this year. Why are they leaving?
One of the primary reasons millennials decide to pack up and leave is because they don’t believe they are receiving any personal benefit or growth. Millennials have grown up in an era of instant access to information, leading them to become more efficient in problem solving, decision-making and critical thinking.
Work with this generation to make a development plan for their job that includes continuing education, progressive job training and coaching. This type of development provides them more responsibility and will allow them to move up the proverbial corporate leadership ladder.
4. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
From my experience, if there is one key concept for working well with millennials, it’s communication. My generation is used to instant communication in almost every facet of our lives, from parents, teachers, coaches and peers, so it makes sense that we would expect the same from our managers.
However, this is a big shift for a lot of managers. Whereas older generations would only receive feedback during annual performance reviews, millennials want to receive feedback much more regularly. It’s not just the frequency of communication, but also the content. Millennials want to know if their performance may be suffering, as well as when they are succeeding.
Moreover, they want to be included in brainstorming about how the job could be improved, provide new ideas for productivity or efficiency, and learn how their role fits within the organization. Think about your communication. If you believe you’re communicating too little, you most likely are not meeting the mark!
Maximize Your Resources!
If you follow these four tips, you will be well on your way to maximizing your millennial workforce.
Take this to heart: Millennial workers, if managed properly, can be your most productive, innovative and motivated employees yet! Once they feel invested in, the sky is the limit.
Written By Tyler Howell