A lot has been said about Millennials in the workplace these past few years, most of it negative: “They’re entitled, they’re not loyal, it’s all about them.” The bad rap given to Gen Y workers is that they are obsessed with technology in general and social media in particular and demand flexible working hours, instant feedback and “work that matters”.
There is no doubt Millennials have different expectations than older generations of workers from their jobs and their employers. But the latest information shows they’re not as “difficult” as first reported.
In reality, according to the newest Way to Work survey from Adecco Staffing USA, 70 percent of Millennials surveyed would rather have a stable and secure job—and aren’t expecting to be emotionally attached to what they do.
The survey also shows Millennials aren’t into job-hopping but do want to be given opportunities for advancement and promotion. Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding, says the top reason Millennials leave their jobs is “lack of career opportunity.” If given the opportunity to advance, he says, Millennial workers would stick around for at least five years.
Millennials appreciate additional job training, don’t mind being mentored and would like help assessing their career goals within your company. Why not set up on internal mentoring/coaching program where Millennials and older gen workers can help one another? Mentors can show Millennials the ropes, while Millennials can get the older workers up to speed on technology, showing them, for instance how to use social media, post a blog or edit an online video.
As for doing “work that matters,” only 19 percent of those surveyed say this is the most important factor when choosing a job. Even more interesting, factors like friendly work environments and flexible hours ranked near the bottom of their priority lists.
While many think Millennials are glued to their smartphones, scanning their social media accounts all day, and not interacting with other employees, studies have shown they’re actually more collaborative in the workplace than any other generation. A 2013 survey from Cornerstone revealed 60 percent of Millennials prefer in-person collaboration vs. 34 percent who would rather collaborate online. Take advantage of this by allowing them to team up and work on group projects. Work of this nature also encourages in-office participation, so you don’t have to struggle with work-at-home requests.
This also means inviting them to brainstorming meetings, asking for their input in general and making them feel like a valued member of your team.
Their smartphone obsession also means they don’t resent getting weekend, or after-hours emails—as long as they’re not expected to drop everything and respond immediately.
If you’re thinking Millennials wouldn’t want to work for a small business like yours, think again. Schwabel says Millennials actually prefer the flexibility of working for a small business and particularly chafe at workplaces “with strict corporate guidelines.”
Some of the conventional wisdom about Millennial employees is true, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. They do want regular feedback, whether formal or informal, which is certainly helpful to business owners who can give guidance that’s welcomed and not resented. This also helps you keep your vision and mission on track.
Millennials and the next generation (some call it Gen Z) are the future of the workforce. They are very entrepreneurially-minded but are willing to apply that mindset to their lives as employees, before tackling business ownership. So it’s up to you to take advantage of this bright, open and hard-working generation.