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.

 

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.

 

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.

zuckerberg

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.

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.

Busting Myths about Millennials: Job Hopping

The ongoing narrative is that Millennials are serial job-hoppers—ungrateful and unloyal. “Why bother hiring them,” managers say, “if they only stay 6 months?”

But new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests this narrative is just not true. It turns out that Millennials are no more likely to “hop” than previous generations when they were young.

The BLS study shows that the average job tenure for 20-somethings (many current Millennials) is the same today as it was in the 1980s, when the oldest members of Generation X were in their 20s, and that how long a young employee stays in a job is more a factor of youth than of generation.

An older study by BLS also revealed job-hopping is largely due to younger employees’ search for their professional strengths, interests and best career path. “Of course, there is significant job movement among young workers, both in terms of employers and types of work. Still, once they settle into a career path, employees become considerably more stable in terms of their work than is generally thought,” according to the study.

The same is true today. Overall, job-hopping tends to stabilize more after age 28 for the majority of workers—and job-hopping seems to happen less for those with higher levels of education, according to BLS data from 2016.

But consider this: For young professionals, job-hopping may have benefits. Trying different jobs at various companies can help them grow professionally, learn about themselves and attain new skills quickly. Further, studies show they may make more money moving from company to company than staying with one company long term: A job change can yield a 10 percent or more increase in salary, whereas the average annual raise is just 3 – 4.5 percent.

What Managers Can Do to Keep the Best Millennial Employees

Staying with one company for an entire professional career is not a “thing” now like it was for previous generations. It just doesn’t happen.

As a manager, it’s important to recognize that Millennials have no qualms about staying with a company long-term — they would just rather do so for a company that values their growth and development the way their parents did as these Millennials grew up.

To do this, managers should show a genuine interest in their younger employees’ career development and long-term goals.

In addition, cross-generational mentoring programs can keep Millennial’s engaged and provide a unique chance to learn more about career development at your company and envision themselves at that company well into the future.

Millennials are most interested in working for companies that help them see the “greater good” in what they do on a day-to-day basis. Managers who make it clear that the work the company does make a difference in people’s lives and makes the world a better place are more likely to have happy employees and lower turnover. Offering volunteer opportunities and community-oriented professional development is also key to keeping these valuable employees around.

Lastly, be transparent and be authentic. Millennials crave honesty and follow-through from their professional leadership on the health and well-being of the company, and the company’s mission, vision and goals. Fostering a culture of openness can help prevent Millennials from getting nervous and looking for new jobs based on false or incomplete information, as they fear layoffs just like their parents did.

Seven years after the great recession, the economy is still in recovery and morphing to a new economic paradigm called the “gig economy”, where Uber driver jobs might be plentiful, but meaningful work with benefits is scarce. If you are an employer that has meaningful work, can provide a growth and development plan, and an openness to skills that young professionals can bring, you have a good shot at stopping the hopping.

workaholics

5 Ways to Get Millennials to Want to Work for You

Ping pong tables, latte machines, free kale smoothies, a nap room — sounds like a paradise workplace for Millennials, right? Maybe — but maybe not.

It turns out that “perks” like this do not make young professionals feel fulfilled at work for the long term.

The first Millennials were graduating college and entering the workforce just a few years after the dot-com bubble burst. Even after that economic collapse, however, many companies were trying to attract young, tech-savvy employees with Silicon Valley-style perks from free food to activities designed to make work “fun”. But these things aren’t what Millennial employees really want at work.

1. Millennials want to work for organizations that offer ways for them to feel engaged and emotionally connected to their jobs, according to research from Gallup. They want to feel good about the impact their role has on their workplace and on the community.

Managers can do this by talking more about why the company’s mission is meaningful to the community and the world at large, and by communicating how the employee fits into that mission. Volunteer opportunities can also make employees feel more connected and engaged at work. (See “3 Ways Millennials are Changing the Workplace” for more on this.)

2. Millennials want to work for companies that have an open and honest communication culture, including frequent check-ins, constructive feedback, defined responsibilities and goals that are achievable with proper support.

Managers can do this by focusing on being authentic, approachable coaches, being a role model and setting up Millennials with a structured and productive mentoring program.

3. Millennials want to work for companies that offer them professional challenges, opportunities for growth and show an interest in their short- and long-term success.

Managers can do this by talking about long-term goals, career path and development and future opportunities. “They want to get on the perfect career track right away, despite their job-hopping reputation, data show that most would prefer to stay with one company that will help them achieve their professional goals,” according to Neil Howe.

4. Millennials will be attracted to companies that integrate their work and their life. This does not mean they want to work 80 hours per week. They don’t want work to become their life, but they do like working hard and taking on professional challenges.

The way they do this is different than previous generations. For Millennials, being chained to a desk can be frustrating, and many Millennials want the flexibility to work outside the standard 9-to-5 schedule. “When Millennials say they want ‘balance,’ they don’t mean work less. They mean work differently and more flexibly. There’s a big difference,” mentioned Cali Williams Yost in a piece for Fast Company.

Managers can do this by allowing some telecommuting and alternative work schedules, while keeping expectations high and communication frequent.

5. Millennials will want to work for companies that offer stability and job security. The oldest members of the Millennial generation were just starting to look for their first full-time jobs when the Great Recession happened and they witnessed (and experienced) high unemployment rates.

Managers should emphasize the long-term prospects of the company’s success and the sustainability of their business model. Millennials have long-term horizons when thinking about their career goals. They would rather have a meaningful career with a sold, stable company, rather than hop from job to job. In fact, the idea that Millennial employees “job hop” more than previous generations is a myth. To the extent that they do job hop, it’s because they are working to gain skills to advance themselves in their career. You don’t want to be that company where they are gaining skills so they can move on to the next company. Managers should be clear that their company provides opportunities for professional growth and development.

Overall, Millennials are looking for good coaches in the workplace who are honest, say one thing and do that thing (not do another); they want CEOs who admit mistakes and are open about the company’s health; they want to understand their role with a company that is making a positive difference in the community and in the world.

The way to attract and keep the best Millennial employees is not with free food.

 

Millennials in the Workplace: Meeting Them Where They Are

Understanding any generation — and working with them effectively and productively — means knowing how they were raised. It is important to “put yourself in someone else’s shoes,” and consider Millennials’ upbringing, how they have been raised and what they value.

In leadership, you cannot fully utilize an individual team member’s strengths unless you really know them and know where they’re coming from. To develop Millennials professionally, it helps as a manager to communicate the way that they understand, taking into account their perspective.

There are certain hot buttons that can spur a Millennial to higher levels of engagement and activity.

  • Members of the Millennial generation were raised to feel special by parents who engaged with them, made them feel wanted and important, and were actively involved in their lives. For employers, that means a more hands-on, self-affirming approach to management that visibly and positively rewards them for accomplishing their goals. Here is where a coaching model to managing really works. (And no, you don’t need to buy a box of trophies. A simple gift card to Starbucks for a job well done works just as well.)
  • Millennials were raised with teamwork, collaboration and community-mindedness. They played team sports, worked on group projects in school and volunteer work was a routine part of their education.
  • They grew up with rapidly developing technology and are comfortable communicating in new ways, across management levels and in an open and honest manner.

Employers should meet Millennials where they are. Here are three ways employers can to do that to encourage professional growth and commitment:

  1. First impressions are everything. For example, you’ll never get their attention if your website is cluttered, difficult to navigate and uses outdated technology. The message that sends to Millennials is that your company isn’t forward-thinking and technologically savvy. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly, clean and has up-to-date content, in addition to addressing why the company’s mission matters and what the company does for its community and to better the world.By doing that, you’ll actually attract other generations, too! A great example is wsandco.com, the website of Woodruff Sawyer & Company, an independent insurance company whose website is both well-designed and speaks to the company’s role in the community and world.
  2. Personalize outreach with high-tech and high-touch elements. Give Millennial candidates the chance to speak to both top executives and newly-hired employees.Millennials are keen on transparency and on open and honest communication across professional levels. Millennials are used to being able to reach colleagues and higher-ups through multiple, convenient channels and want to work for CEOs who follow through on promises.
  3. During the recruitment process, give Millennials a chance to speak with not just with human resources staff and their direct potential manager, but with recently hired employees and top executives, too. Recruiters should maintain frequent communication with Millennial applicants, too, without sacrificing formal niceties.

In the onboarding process, schedule immersive orientations in order to build a network of trust among their new peers and foster a sense of community. Welcome Millennials like it’s a privilege to work with them.

A just-released white paper from Coaching Millennials goes over six simple strategies every employer can use to attract, manage, and retain the best Millennial talent. Along with meeting them where they are, the white paper discusses coaching millennials with feedback, creating a positive environment and more. Download the white paper (free) here.


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Download the free white paper here from Coaching Millennials.
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How Many Generations are in the Workforce?

How many generations of people are in the workforce today? The answer may be fewer than you think.

It is often said there are four or even five generations of people in the full-time labor pool, but the answer hinges on the definition of generation and simple math.

A generation typically spans 18 to 22 years. Currently, 97 percent of the workforce in the United States is 18 to 73 years old, a 56-year spread, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That means it is unlikely you will have more than three generations in your place of business — at least legally — at any given time.

Right now, the generations in the workforce are Baby Boomers, the oldest of whom are in their early 70s, Generation X members, and Millennials, the youngest of whom are just entering their teen years. Generation Z members are barely old enough to stay home alone (see Busting Myths – Generation Z).

Although there are only three generations in the active, full-time workforce, the generational differences are significant. A survey of thousands of employees in the insurance industry, for example, revealed that three-quarters of respondents agreed that there are important generation differences, and those differences “sometimes” or “often” pose challenges in the workplace. (See more about this in “Why Generations Matter” from LifeCourse Associates.)

These differences include how members of each generation set goals for themselves and others, what members of each generation wants from their managers and coworkers, and even how they communicate. Learn more about how Millennials are changing the workplace here.