Millennial Engagement, Innovation and Creativity at Work

Almost a year ago, I started CoachingMillennials with two Millennials — my son, Nick, and Georgia Howe, whose father Neil Howe I had the privilege to work with and has done significant research and writing on generations. We continue to research, write and speak about Millennials in the workplace, Millennial issues and more.

This year, we want to tell stories of Millennials who are creative, driven and innovative. To do that, we’re asking to be connected to the hardest working, most inspiring (and inspirational) Millennials you know.

Let me know where you see inspired, motivated Millennials in your workplace, company or organization. Please email me at warren@coachingmillennials.com with your suggestions and connections.

While Millennials aren’t necessarily digital addicts, they are digital natives and are used to both taking in and presenting information in multimedia. We plan to use video, social media platforms and more to let Millennials tell their own stories about engagement, innovation, and creativity at work.

Narrative is an ancient and powerful medium. It inspires and transforms. It plants seeds of innovation and change. A vast majority of workplaces fail to reach their potential. But some do — and we want to go in-depth on how Millennials are helping. What are their stories? How did they do it?

We look forward to finding out from Millennials themselves and sharing with you this year.

Warren

workplace performance review

Millennials, Professional Feedback and the New Performance Review Model

If Millennials had their way in the workplace, the “annual performance review” would go the way of the fax machine and punch clock.

Millennials grew up with “Google” as a verb, as in “to google” virtually any answer to any question. More recently, services like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and other digital concierges make finding information even more effortless.

But technology is not the only catalyst that has conditioned Millennials to receive instant and frequent feedback: Ever since they were young, Millennials were tested and graded at an alarming frequency, all to track their short and long term goal attainment.

Millennials are uniquely conditioned, more than any other generation, to expect speed and frequency– especially as it relates the their performance goals. The dreaded Annual Performance Review, which was never very popular, is fast becoming an antiquated relic, especially for Millennials who crave real time feedback.

Studies have shown that Millennials appreciate hands-on guidance and direction from their supervisors on a more frequent basis, unlike employees from older generations. In a recent LifeCourse Associates’ survey, “69 percent of Millennials say they like their supervisor to provide them with ‘hands-on guidance and direction.’ Only about 40 percent of Boomers and older Gen Xers said the same.”

Providing frequent and tight cycles of honest and open feedback will more-than pay off in productivity and employee engagement. Engaged employees feel valued and have more professional satisfaction, tend to be more motivated, more likely to meet their goals, and more likely to stay with a company in the future.

Some of the top-rated companies and best places to work for have all but ditched the traditional, top-down annual performance evaluation in favor of more frequent, 360-degree reviews. These includes GE, Adobe and Deloitte.

Learn more about how to coach and retain these goal-oriented and feedback-craving Millennials in this white paper, “Employer’s Guide to the Millennial Generation: Your Six Keys to Maximizing Millennial Performance.”

Download the white paper here.

 

job interview files

Hiring Millennials: 5 Questions to Ask a Millennial Job Candidate, and the Answers that May Surprise You

Millennials place different priorities on what they are looking for in a job. And its not always the priorities you would think.

They place a high value on professional development opportunities; they want to work for companies with values aligned with their own; they like to be trusted that the work will still get done, despite the flexible scheduling opportunities; and, they appreciate transparency, authenticity, and open-door policies in regards to communications and frequent feedback.

With these Millennial expectations and professional desires, it’s imperative that hiring managers ask the right questions to ensure the best fit for both the new Millennial employee and the company, and listen carefully for the answer they might not expect.

The following are some questions hiring managers should consider asking Millennials who are applying for jobs, and the answers they’re likely to get.

Questions to Ask a Potential Millennial Employee

  1. What are your biggest motivators?

Millennials are motivated by more than salary.

While making enough to live comfortably, pay off student loans and save for a home and retirement is important, Millennials are also motivated by the opportunity to grow professionally. They seek out employers who offer well-defined challenges and guidance on meeting their goals. They appreciate mentorship programs and developing meaningful professional relationships. Plus, they are attracted to employers who make they feel like they’re part of something bigger and help them understand how they’re contributing to the greater good in the world.

  1. Describe your ideal work environment.

Millennials may surprise you here. While the stereotype leans toward no dress code, ping-pong tables, free smoothies and lattes and the like, Millennials don’t need those things to be happy. For many Millennials, an ideal work environment goes back to the value they place on teamwork, open-door policies, and transparency and honesty from higher-ups.

  1. What do you value in a job?

The best Millennial employees will tell you they want the things they value — again, teamwork, achievable and well-defined goals, structure and frequent feedback. All of those things loop back to professional development, which Millennials say is a key component in whether they stay with a company or leave.

  1. How do you like to receive feedback?

The stereotype about Millennials is that they are digital addicts who shun in-person communication. But it’s not true. Studies have repeatedly shown that Millennials appreciate in-person communication and want up-front honesty from their colleagues and bosses. A Fortune/IBM study revealed that Millennials prefer face-to-face interaction and in-person coaching and mentoring when they are learning a new skill.

A common answer from a Millennial to this question might be “Frequently.” Companies that rate highly at attracting and keeping top Millennial talent are doing away with the traditional annual review and building feedback cycles into the workflow. (An MTV Millennials in the Workplace survey showed 80 percent of respondents said they liked to receive “real-time feedback” more than getting “more traditional” (often annual or semi-annual) performance reviews. From frequent testing in school to extracurricular activities, Millennials have grown accustomed to knowing how they’re doing at any given point and don’t like the uncertain feeling that comes from waiting for feedback.

  1. What types of things do you want in a boss?

This is a key question. Millennials were raised by a community of parents, coaches, teachers and neighbors — who believed in them, cheered them on, gave them participation trophies and sometimes acted more like friends than authority figures. Millennials may expect a similar relationship with their bosses — friendly, approachable and caring. Millennials want their bosses to look out for their best interest they way their parents did.

Understanding what Millennials want from their professional relationship with their boss — and knowing how likely the boss is to meet that expectation — can go a long way toward ensuring a mutually good fit in the workplace.

 

 

Busting Myths: Millennials have No Loyalty in the Workplace

If you hire a Millennial, you can’t expect them to stay around long. At least, that’s what most employers think when they hire people who are in the early years of their career.

But it turns out that Millennials do not “job hop” any more than young people of previous generations. To the extent that they do “hop”, it is more about the younger employees’ search for their professional strengths, interests, and career paths, according to a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If you want your best Millennial employees to stick around, you need to understand that for Millennials, loyalty is a two-way street. If an employer is not investing in Millennials’ professional development and satisfaction, there’s a good chance they’ll say, “Adios, amigos.”

According to a survey done by Deloitte earlier this year, 44 percent of Millennials say, if given the choice, they would like to leave their current employers in the next two years — particularly if “there is a perceived lack of leadership-skill development.” More than six in 10 Millennials (63 percent) say their “leadership skills are not being fully developed” at work.

Other reasons for lack of loyalty in the workplace for Millennials are “feelings of being overlooked, compounded by larger issues around work/life balance, the desire for flexibility, and a conflict of values.”

How to Ensure Millennial Employee Loyalty

Fortunately as an employer, you can do things to ensure Millennial loyalty.

Companies should capitalize on aligning company values to the personal values of their top Millennial employees. More than 80 percent of Millennials who plan to stay with their company for at least another 5 years believe their personal values are shared by the organizations they work for, according to Deloitte. This is a strong indication that Millennials choose to work for and stay with employers whose values reflect their own.

Millennials would prioritize the sense of purpose around people rather than growth or profit maximization. This is one of the reasons that the three top fields for Millennials are education, environment and healthcare, research shows.

In broad terms, Millennials’ personal goals are more traditional. They seek a good work/life balance, they want to own their own homes, and they strive for financial security that allows them to save enough money for a comfortable retirement. The ambition to make positive contributions to their organizations’ success and/or to the world in general also rate highly. As an employer, assisting Millennial employees in reaching some of these goals can help engender loyalty.

The companies that are successfully keeping turnover down and instilling a long-lasting sense of loyalty in their Millennial employees seem to have common themes:

  • Identifying, understanding, and aligning with Millennials’ values
  • Supporting Millennials’ ambitions and professional development
  • Having a mentor

The Deloitte survey shows that loyalty to an employer is driven by understanding and support of Millennials’ career and life ambitions, as well as providing opportunities to progress and become leaders. Having a mentor is incredibly powerful in this regard. Those intending to stay with their organization for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68 percent) than not (32 percent).

Like all generations, pay and financial benefits drive Millennials’ choice of organization more than anything else.

“But when salary or other financial benefits are removed from the equation, work/life balance and opportunities to progress or take on leadership roles stand out. Those factors are followed by flexible working arrangements, deriving a sense of meaning, and training programs that support professional development. An employer that can offer these is likely to be more successful than its rivals in securing the talents of the Millennial generation.”

Every incoming generation changes the shape of a workplace. Boomers brought long-hours and an almost devotional approach to work. GenXers brought work-life balance. Now Millennials are making their own footprint — a flexible, purpose-driven workplace that has lots of professional development opportunities.

 

5 Things Millennials are Thankful For

Being a Millennial isn’t easy.

More so than other generations, members of the Millennial generation are dealing with crushing levels of student debt. Forbes reported that 57 percent of Millennials “regret how much they borrowed” for education, and now it’s delaying Millennials’ ability to buy a home, get married or do other things they want to do.

Yet for all the education they have, their job prospects are perpetually uncertain. More than half of Millennials report being “underemployed,” according to an Accenture survey. Many Millennials are turning to “gig economy” jobs – cobbling together a series of part-time or contract jobs to make ends meet. It’s rare for these jobs to come with benefits for retirement savings or health insurance, which puts more even financial pressure on young professionals.

What keeps Millennials awake at night? Retirement, job security and debt, mostly, according to a study by Charles Schwab & Co.

But in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, we would like to recognize that Millennials have much to be thankful for. Here are five of them:

Flexibility at Work

While gig economy jobs may not be ideal in some ways, they do afford Millennials a significant amount of flexibility. Millennials like the way being a full-time freelancer or contractor gives them freedom and independence, career development and learning opportunities they believe a more “traditional” 9-to-5 job wouldn’t.

Even within “traditional” jobs, employers are embracing the notion of a more flexible work schedule. Fully half of the U.S. workforce has a job that is compatible with at least some teleworking, according to Global Workplace Analytics.

Technology plays an important role in this dynamic. Thanks to near-ubiquitous wi-fi, the adoption of tablets, newer workplace communication tools like Asana and Slack and the proliferation of co-working spaces, being productive outside the office is entirely possible.

Technology

Thanks, technology! There’s no doubt Millennials have incorporated digital technology into many, many facets of their life. From driving directions to working remotely to staying in touch with friends and family, Millennials are definitely digital natives.

But don’t get confused – being a digital native does not make Millennials digital addicts. While they appreciate what technology allows them to do, they say it does not replace in-person conversations, particularly in the workplace.

Social Awareness

Millennials are the most socially aware generation to date. They put a priority on social responsibility in many areas of their life. When shopping, they are more willing to pay more for sustainable products and services, according to a Neilsen global study.

Companies are paying attention to this trend in the products and services they offer, and in their commitment to the community. More than 90 percent of Millennials want to work for socially responsible companies. And a Deloitte survey showed 70 percent of Millennials “listed their company’s commitment to the community as an influence on their decision to work there.”

Whether a company is seeking Millennials’ dollars or talent, corporate social responsibility is key and a trend Millennials are thankful for.

Understanding and Involved Parents

Financial stress from student loans and job uncertainty means a lot of Millennials are trying to save money on housing by moving back home with Mom and Dad. Some Millennials are using the money they save on rent to pay back student loans faster so they can move on with their adult lives.

Thank goodness for understanding parents! While there haven’t been many studies about how the parents actually feel about this, more than one-third of college seniors in 2016 planned to live at home for at least a year after graduation, according to the job website Indeed. Millennials grew up with parents who were highly involved in their children’s emotional and educational development and activities.

For employers who are looking to hire recent graduates, it’s likely that prospective Millennial hires’ parents are heavily involved in this process. That may mean answering questions from parents, inviting parents into the office and even reassuring parents that your company has their child’s best professional interests in mind.

Optimism and Drive

Millennials were raised with the belief that they could do anything and be anyone when they grew up. Witnessing the United States’ first black president and the first woman at the top of a major party ticket, as well as seeing Millennial successes like Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, Millennials are ambitious, passionate – and optimistic.

Almost half (49 percent) of Millennials say the country’s best years are ahead of them, but just 42 percent of Generation X members and 44 percent of Baby Boomers say the same, according to Pew Research Center.

That sense of optimism will serve them well both personally and professionally. Optimism has been cited as the single most critical characteristic of successful entrepreneurs. Their optimism may also make them healthier in the long-term, as studies have shown a positive mental outlook has a good affect on cardiovascular health.

For those who are hiring Millennials in the new year, keeping in mind these five things that Millennials appreciate — flexibility, technology, social awareness, involved parents and optimism — will help with successful recruitment, hiring and long-term retention. Millennials will be thankful for managers who coach them, keep their professional goals in mind and allow Millennials the opportunity to be themselves.

4 More Millennial Traits

Last week, we wrote about how Millennials were raised by their parents to feel special, sheltered and confident. Those three Millennial traits mark that generation’s personality, shaped by their parents and the prevailing cultural influences of the times.

But there are four more traits of Millennials worth paying attention to: Team-oriented, Conventional, Achieving and Pressured.

Team-Oriented

There’s a reason why group fitness classes are more popular than ever before: Millennials are the most team sports-oriented generation in history, thanks to the rise of organized sports and parents who focused on group participation activities for their Millennial children. This started early for Millennials, in schools that emphasized group projects and team collaboration.

This team focused orientation set the stage for Millennials’ preference and expectation of working in teams in the workplace. It also sets the stage for managers to play more of a coaching role. The managers who want to attract and retain the best Millennial employees should consider taking on a “coach” role. This means:

  • Building relationships is important, as Millennial employees want to feel like they belong to a team working toward a larger goal or the “greater good” in their career.
  • Cross-generational mentorship is appreciated by Millennials, who want to feel connected to people in other departments, be coached by people with more experience and want to feel part of a community.
  • Embracing open communication and frequent feedback will make Millennials feel welcome and like an important part of the workplace team.

Conventional

It is counter-intuitive to think that “youth” and “conventional” go together. The Baby Boomers led the way in their youth to be unconventional, anti-establishment, and counter-cultural. GenXers followed the Boomers lead by being non-conforming, but in a different, more rule-avoidance way. Millennials, on the other hand, are a truly conventional generation in may respects.

Gallup research revealed, “In addition to finding steady, engaging jobs, millennials want to have high levels of well-being, which means more than being physically fit. Yes, millennials want to be healthy, but they also want a purposeful life, active community and social ties, and financial stability.”

Millennials are waiting longer than their parents and grandparents to get married, have children and buy homes, but not because they don’t want to follow the conventional path of owning a home and raising a family. Millennials are delaying those things due to economic circumstances, i.e.–student loans and tenuous employment situations.

For employers, this means providing Millennials with predictable, stable opportunities to grow their skill set, and a clear career path. Millennials don’t like to “wing it”. They would rather have a plan that extends well into their future and know what to expect for their long-term development. Make sure you provide plenty of opportunity to explain benefits like health insurance, 401ks, and other benefits. Research has shown that Millennials tend be the most conservative when it comes to investing their money. They save at a higher rate than other generations, and are less likely to have their money in the equity market.

Achieving

Millennials want to achieve. Contrary to the common media narrative, they are an ambitious generation that wants to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others. As previously noted, Millennials’ parents were more involved and more positive in many ways when it came to how they were raised. Parents had high expectations for their Millennial children, that they can achieve anything they put their minds to and the sky is the limit

This was reinforced as they became older with historical markers that would have been improbable in the past, such as the first black president, the first female Presidential nominee of a major party ticket, and a wildly successful Millennial entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg who transformed the way all generations communicate.

Another indication for this ethic of high achievement is their education level. “Millennials are on track to be the most-educated generation in history,” according to the Pew Research Center. In 2015, about 27 percent of Millennial women had a bachelor’s degree or higher by age 33, and 21 percent of men did. Those are higher percentages than Generation X, the Baby Boomers or the Silent generation by age 33.

So, how does an employer manage an achieving generation? First, never dumb down your message for Millennials. It is condescending and they will see right through it. Set high standards in performance in the work that they do. Be clear about benchmarks and reward them at each step of the process, not just upon completion of a goal. Remember—Millennials grew up in a 24/7 news cycle, texting and IMing. Speed and frequency is important.

Pressured

A lot of that high-achieving attitude Millennials have comes from the pressure they feel to achieve. A survey conducted by Inc.com revealed 67 percent of millennials said they felt “extreme” pressure to succeed, compared to 40 percent of Gen-Xers and 23 percent of Boomers.

In addition to having highly-involved parents and frequent “measurement” of their progress in school, Millennials feel pressured to succeed at a younger and younger age. “In a strange way, the fact that most millennials’ parents raised them thinking ‘the sky is the limit’ and ‘you can do anything you believe you can,’ then when they don’t immediately find success, they feel bad about themselves, and pressure to ramp it up,” wrote Dr. Rose Kumar.

In the workplace, this means recognizing the stress that they are feeling. A stable salary and clear expectations of their role goes a long way to reducing this stress, and can really improve performance, but smart companies are taking it up a notch. Wellness workplaces, programs that encourage physical exercise, a balanced diet, meditation, and a healthy social network are all part of a growing trend in the workplace that all generations can benefit from.

One common theme that runs through all four of these traits is the need for employers to set clear expectations. Research performed by Gallup found that one of the strongest correlations to workplace performance was an employees ability to understand what is expected of them.

Employers shouldn’t “wing it” when it comes to attracting and managing Millennials. Have a plan. Be clear. Think long-term.

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3 Notable Traits of Millennials

Special, sheltered and confident — those three characteristics are among the major traits of Millennials.

Every generation has its own personality—attitudes, behaviors and traits that are shaped by experiences in their formative years. In a generation’s youth, the prevailing cultural, social, and economic environment creates a permanent imprint that lasts a lifetime. This imprint creates signature traits.

For Millennials, there are generally seven of these traits – three of which we’ll address here: special, sheltered and confident. (Watch for next week’s blog post for the other four.)

Special

Members of the Millennial generation were raised believing they are special and important by their parents who kept a close, watchful eye on them.

In addition, Millennials are used to constant or near-instantaneous feedback on their work, thanks to growing up in an era of testing, measuring and ever-faster technology. For managers, this means Millennials in the workplace want faster feedback cycles, more frequent communication on goals and an open-door policy on communication.

It also means mentorship programs are important to them and something they seek out. And companies are responding: A 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey revealed that more than two-thirds (68 percent) of Millennials who had been with their job for 5 or more years had solid mentors in the workplace.

Sheltered

Thanks in part to the 24/7 news era, the parents of Millennials were constantly reminded of the dangers of the world. In response, many Millennials grew up more “sheltered” than previous generations.

With closer relationships to their parents than earlier generations, the economic realities of post-college life for Millennials often means moving back home — back to the place where they felt special, engaged with, wanted and important.

At the workplace, managers of Millennials may take on elements of parenting by taking a more hands-on approach to working with Millennials. Millennials will appreciate managers who give them reachable, incremental goals and rewards for meeting them. Plus, managers should realize that Millennials want to work for someone who “has their back” in the workplace and collaborates with them.

Confident

While Millennials like feeling protected and affirmed, they are also quite confident. Those same parents who raised Millennials to feel special and wanted also raised them to believe they could accomplish anything they put their minds to.

Growing up in an era of self-made billionaires (Mark Zuckerberg is a Millennial), participation trophies and the election (twice) of the first black president, Millennials were raised with the attitude that they can achieve anything they put their mind to.

For managers, that means striking a delicate balance between hand-holding and granting independence and leadership opportunities. It also means trusting them to make solid decisions and manage themselves with proper guidance.

Check out the second part in this series on Millennial traits next week.

Can the GOP Win Back Millennials Before 2020?

Millennials comprise the largest generation of eligible voters this fall. Nearly half of Millennials refuse to identify themselves as Republican or Democrat, but the majority of Millennials are planning to vote for Hillary Clinton on Nov. 8.

Will the GOP be able to recover the Millennial vote before 2020?

Representing 31 percent of the electorate (more than 69 million eligible voters), Millennials are more likely than older voters to favor strong communities, look for collaborative solutions and trust the government. Millennials willingly accept many social trends that some older voters may find threatening, and are more likely than older generations to be optimistic about America’s long-term future.

The Millennial Vote: 2016 and 2020

The reality is that the Republican Party has lost the Millennial vote in 2016. “Millennials back Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by more than 3-1, a new USA TODAY/Rock the Vote Poll finds, but enthusiasm about voting is dipping as a sharply negative campaign enters its final weeks,” USA Today reported this week.

Recovery by 2020 is still possible, but only if the GOP changes the party narrative and resolves its current identity crisis. Some Republican leaders argue Millennials agree with the GOP on certain issues and an appeal more toward individualism and away from divisive social issues will bring Millennials back into the Republican fold.

However, some argue this change is more of a fundamental shift in values. A 2015 Pew report revealed Millennials who identify themselves as Republicans are less conservative than GOP members of older generations.

For a more in-depth look at the Millennials and the GOP — and how Republicans can reconnect with this generation — download “The Millennial Generation: Who They Are and How the GOP Can Connect with Them” below by providing your email address.


millennials are digital natives, but not digital addicts

Myth: Millennials are Digital Addicts and Avoid In-Person Communication

Millennials are digital addicts. They post Instagram photos from the dinner table, check Snapchat before they get out of bed in the morning and are more concerned about losing their phone than losing their wallet. Combine this with their inability to have a face-to-face conversation, and, well… the essence of humanity hangs in the balance.

Not so. Studies repeatedly have shown Millennials appreciate in-person engagement through their daily interactions, and in the workplace a strong majority prefer to interact with colleagues in person.

Millennials appreciate flexible schedules and the ability to work from anywhere, and they incorporate digital technology into almost every aspect of their life — but they say digital doesn’t outweigh the value of having a real conversation as part of building strong relationships. Communication for Millennials is not an either/or proposition with digital and in-person. It’s both.

Today, all generations are digitally dependent, but Millennials are the only generation that literally grew up with the internet, search engines, texting, and social media. This makes their interactions with technology more comfortable and seamless with their daily routine. They are indeed, “digital natives,” but it does not means they replace digital interaction at the expense of face-to-face interaction.

Millennials Don’t Always ‘Prefer’ Digital Communications

While Millennials are used to processing a lot of digital information and some seem to have the ability to multitask more efficiently than previous generations, they don’t always prefer digital communication. Studies from the Pew Research Center show that although Millennials send more text messages than members of other generations, their use of the telephone is the same as older adults. And when they can’t figure something out, they would rather talk to a person than get help online. “For many Millennials, person-to-person contact is still a reliable and effective solution to their problems — not something they fear or avoid,” Nielsen Norman Group reported.

This applies in the workplace, too. A Fortune/IBM study shows that when it comes to learning new professional skills, Millennials prefer face-to-face interaction and in-person coaching and mentoring.

Additionally, although many people characterize Millennials as a generation of over-sharers, that same Fortune/IBM study revealed Millennials are more likely to draw a firm line between professionalism and personal sharing than older generations.

Other Generations are Digital Addicts, Too

It’s not just Millennials who love technology. A Nielsen study found that older generations of adults are just as addicted to their mobile devices. Baby Boomers are more likely to use technology during a family meal than their Millennial or Homelander (sometimes called Generation Z) counterparts. More than half of Baby Boomers (52 percent) have admitted to using technology at the dinner table – 12 percent more than Millennials and 14 percent more than Homelanders.

Tips for Managers and Employers

What does all of this mean for the people who manage Millennial employees?

First, don’t assume that Millennials are less communicative than other generations — but be aware that it may be through different mediums at different times. Millennials will appreciate employers and managers who have found flexibility in integrating communications technology in the workplace.

Second, be open to Millennials’ suggestions to new communication tools that can help them (and you) communicate. Many Millennials are using systems like Slack or Asana in managing projects and messaging co-workers about project statuses.

Finally, nothing will replace in-person communication. It’s still key for all employees to have the opportunity to have in-person meetings, and for Millennials, in-person meetings are the best way to show that you care about them.

 

goals

How to Coach Goal-Oriented Millennial Employees

It’s counterintuitive, but Millennials in the workplace are far more goal-oriented than their Boomer and GenX counterparts.

You may be thinking that Millennials are starry-eyed dreamers, but that was the Boomer generation when they were young. Or maybe you are thinking that Millennials are slackers, just drifting to and fro, but that was GenXers when they were young. Of the three generations currently in the workforce, Millennials are decidedly the most focused “on the prize.”

Like all generational traits, their heavily goal-oriented ways started with how they were raised. Millennials were measured and monitored relentlessly growing up by their parents and teachers with a focus on opportunities for growth and meeting their goals. From grades to test scores, credentials and certifications, trophies and rewards, Millennials are familiar with measurements of success against objective benchmarks. Goal attainment is their sweet spot.

In the workplace, it’s no different. Millennial employees crave frequent feedback and progress assessments. An MTV Millennials in the Workplace survey revealed 80 percent of respondents said they preferred “real-time feedback” over more traditional (often annual or semi-annual) performance reviews. Executives at many companies are adjusting to this Millennials mindset by offering more frequent reviews, more forward-looking feedback, and guidance and support to help ensure Millennials meet their professional goals.

There are discussions in some of the most respected companies to banish performance feedback reviews entirely, and replace that onerous process with live, real time feedback. In addition to offering faster feedback and review cycles, managers should establish clear benchmarks, objectively-based performance measurement, incremental goals and rewards for achievement. Providing Millennial employees with short-term goals that can be measured will improve their performance and help them remain professionally satisfied at work.

As digital natives, Millennials also respond well to using technology as a measurement device. Think about the fit-bit device for the workplace. Project management software and systems that introducing a ‘gaming’ element to the workplace (such as those that offer badges or points for achievement) can move Millennials forward at work.

A just-released white paper from Coaching Millennials provides six effective strategies every manager can use to attract, coach, and keep top Millennial talent. Along with helping Millennials focus on and achieve their professional and workplace goals, the white paper discusses the work environment, communication and much more. Taken together, these strategies can get any employer on the path to better performance from their young professionals.


white-paper-frontt

Download the white paper (free) here.

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Millennials Leading the Way to a Gig Economy

More than one-third of Millennials don’t have a “traditional,” full-time, 9-to-5 job with benefits. Instead, this generation is leading the rise of the “gig economy”. In this new post-recession environment, Millennials are trying to make ends meet and build a career through a variety of freelance and part-time contract jobs.

The term “gig economy” was first coined in reference to the days of 1920s jazz music, where musicians hopped from gig to gig, backing up singers and bands whenever they could to afford to keep playing music and stay on the road traveling. Today, it’s not just musicians performing gigs.

Why Gig?

Three main factors have pushed Millennials toward the gig economy: The economic/political climate, technology, and lifestyle preferences.

On the economic side, it’s all about the continued lack of job growth for Millennials. In the fourth quarter of 2015, Baby Boomers and older Gen-Xers were the ones that added the most jobs (around 378,000), while Millennials and younger Gen-Xers’ jobs shrunk by at least 35,000. Millennials were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. To add insult to injury, many Baby Boomers are delaying retirement, which contributes to fewer jobs available for Millennials.

The Great Recession in the early 2000s occurred just as many Millennials were attempting to enter the workforce, which meant dismal job prospects and the delayed launch of Millennials’ careers. “The result has been a sizable population with no choice but to turn to whatever ‘gig’ comes their way in order to make ends meet,” according to a 2015 Fischer Phillips/Pew Research Center report.

A tiny bright-spot for Millennials was the passage of the Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010. This allowed Millennials to stay on their parents’ health plans till age 26. Sure, this is nice, but most Millennials would rather have a full time job and their own insurance, thank you very much.

Technology has also played a role in elevating the gig economy. Mobile connections and wifi have untethered workers from their desks, while social media and project management systems like Slack and Asana, online time tracking and remote desktops have made it easier to stay connected from afar. Combined with the growth of relatively new job markets like Upwork and Contently, which cater to freelancers and contract workers, it’s easier than even for Millennials to find remote work and be productive from anywhere. Millennials are quick adopters of new technology and are used to working from non-traditional offices and working on their own schedule.

Finally, for some Millennials, the lifestyle that a gig provides fits a type of lifestyle preference. Millennials famously value flexibility in their schedule and work environment — two things that gig economy jobs can provide. According to Millennials, the perks of being a full-time freelancer or relying on a series of contract jobs include freedom and independence that they believe a more traditional job may not provide, gaining a wide diversity of experience, having more chances to learn new skills on the job.

Why Not Gig

Despite the short-term benefits that a gig-job provides, most Millennials, given a choice, would rather have a full-time job with a salary, benefits, and an employer that invests in their personal and professional development. In fact, Millennials are more likely to prefer one employer that provides these benefits than start over every time with a new employer or gig. But for now, out of necessity, many Millennials are embracing the gig.

 

Busting Myths: Millennials are Lazy and Perpetually Late

100 million people known as Millennials are lazy and perpetually late. Values like promptness and industriousness have gone by the wayside with this generation. Civilization, as we know it is ending.

But wait, before you retreat to your fallout shelter waiting for the world to end, there is new research that proves otherwise. An increasing number of studies show Millennials are not slackers and, in fact, may have an unhealthy dedication to hard work.

Unlike previous generations, Millennials grew up in the digital age, where everything is on and available all the time. They live in a 24-hour news cycle where emails, texts, tweets and memes are calling out to them at all hours from a device that is never more than an arm’s length away — literally. A survey by Harris Poll finds that 93 percent of Millennials admit to using their phones in bed, 80 percent use their phones in the restroom and 43 percent are connected while sitting at red lights.

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Part of the reason the “lazy” myth has perpetuated is due to a different way of working that Millennials embrace. Used to doing things on the go, work may include answering emails from the gym or a coffee shop. Millennials believe in working just as hard, but don’t feel the need to be anchored to a desk and show “face time” at the office – they can work anywhere.

While Millennials, like all of us, value time away from work, for many the workday does not have a traditional beginning and end. The 9-to-5 schedule only exists in theory for Millennials, 52 percent of whom believe it’s ok to check work emails during dinner compared to 22 percent of Boomers.

Further, Millennials are more likely than older workers to forfeit earned time off, even though they typically earn the fewest vacation days. According to research by GFK for Project Time Off, American workers take just 16 days of vacation per year in 2015 – down from more than 20 days per year between 1978 and 2000.

Millennials are work martyrs. They are more likely than members of other generations to want to show complete dedication. They do not want to be seen as replaceable at work, and they want to stay in consideration for that raise or promotion.

First impressions and professional reputations are particularly important to Millennial employees — even more so than older colleagues, according to research from Weber Shandwick. That research showed Millennials believe the top way to build their reputation at work is by doing a good job and being prompt. Almost half of Millennials surveyed said volunteering for or accepting extra work is a good way to improve their professional reputation.

For those who work with Millennials, understanding their desire for flexible scheduling is critical to helping them succeed and feel professionally satisfied. The majority of Millennials “believe that flexible work schedules make the workplace more productive for people their age.”

Without “face time” as an indicator of work, executives will have to adjust how they measure employee effectiveness. Millennials are keen on being given challenging but achievable goals, particularly if they come with proper support. Measuring their success, then, may include looking at their productivity, whether they are meeting goals and deadlines, how well they collaborate with co-workers, and the extent to which they contribute positively to the team or company.

Millennials’ desire for transparency and openness at work is a factor here, as well. Millennials want to work for companies where managers and executives are accessible and approachable, able to communicate effectively across platforms and follow up.

Managers may want to start getting used to text messaging their employees.