As millennial employees become a larger part of the workforce, many employers are struggling with how to attract and keep them happy in the workplace. According to Pew Research Center, in 2015, millennials surpassed Gen X in numbers and now make up the largest share of the American workforce. In 2020, people ages 18-33 will account for approximately 50 percent of the workforce, with numbers growing in years to come. Although most companies are acknowledging this influx, many are unsure how to handle these changes. As a millennial in the workforce, I think many organizations are overthinking this.
Millennials aren’t that different than the rest of your organization. Sure, we may have a higher standard when it comes to modern business tools, but at the end of the day, we want to work in a place where we feel secure in our jobs, valued, informed, and connected.
What Employers Get Wrong About Millennial Employees
According to an IBM study, there are many myths and exaggerations when it comes to millennials in the workforce. In fact, millennials and older generations have many of the same workplace desires as the rest of your workforce, like job security and stability. After living through times of economics fragility, millennials actually want the assurance of a long-term career, rather than just a “job.”
With many companies facing a retention crisis, catering to that desire can prove effective. Companies can help employees feel more stable and connected by encouraging them to seek mentors who can help widen their professional networks and deepen their skills. Providing the opportunity for mentoring and training, along with regular feedback, builds a much more transparent and trust-filled culture.
Building a Strong Company Culture Across Generations
Obviously, company culture is important. At its peak, it energizes your employees. It gives value to their work and drives up productivity. A positive, inviting, and collaborative environment encourages employees to love their jobs. And the reality is, many of your employees are likely millennials who are increasingly making key decisions. Unfortunately, many companies fail to create a company culture that is inclusive of employees across generations.
Building a rich corporate community that inspires and engages a multi-generational workforce can be challenging. For one thing, we all make assumptions about the key traits each generation is supposed to have. It’s easy to assume that millennials expect a completely different work environment than previous generations, that they will leave a company the first chance they get, or that they are glued to their smartphones. But is all that necessarily true?
One of the exaggerations IBM discovered was the myth that millennials are digital zombies with little regard to non-virtual communication. While there’s no doubt that millennials are a more tech-connected generation, it turns out they are actually overwhelmed with all this information. According to CornerSD, 38 percent of U.S. millennial employees say they struggle with technology overload, compared to 20 percent of the older generations. A solution to this information overload could be a central hub (think of it as a “collective brain”) where all this information could be easily stored and searched on command.
But perhaps the most overlooked insight into millennial employees is that they feel disconnected from their employers because they don’t understand their company’s mission and key business strategy. In fact, this issue affects workers of all ages.
A majority of the multi-generational employees IBM surveyed don’t entirely understand key elements in their organization’s business strategy, and their leaders are partly to blame. This means that within organizations, communication is poor, leaving room for disorder and lapses in productivity.
If the core of your business processes are unaligned, how can you expect employees to communicate and see eye-to-eye?
Focusing on a Collaborative Culture
Everyone, across all generations, values collaboration and wants it ingrained in company culture. Yet 38 percent of employees say there isn’t enough collaboration in their workplace. Not all hope is lost, however. There lies a hidden opportunity in all this commotion.
According to Forbes, the key to implementing a fantastic company culture is to create sustainable, day-to-day collaboration that allows younger employees to use their digital connectedness to share new ideas to solve problems. Digital tools need to achieve this goal by empowering employees to increase engagement across functional areas. Social learning increases collaboration by making it easier to share information and have an open communication between management and the whole team.
Don’t be stumped by your organization’s culture: let it flourish and enable your employees to thrive.