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managing millennials

Why Don’t Millennials Follow Directions?

Often when I’m speaking to managers of Millennial employees, I’m asked, “Why don’t my Millennial employees follow directions?” As a manager, it can be frustrating to give an assignment only to find out a week later that the assignment is not completed, or partially-completed. What’s the deal? There are two things to know about Millennials that can help you with this on-going management challenge: speed and specificity.

Speed

Since childhood, Millennials have been conditioned to receive guidance and feedback at a high degree of frequency.  Instant feedback on their computer-based quizzes and tests, Google searches, texting and Snapchatting with friends has all had a profound influence on the expectations of speed or response. Particularly in school, Millennials were tested, evaluated, graded and given feedback more often than any other generation to date. Older generations indulged in the virtue of patience simply because things took longer to happen back then. Older generations understand waiting. Millennials were not raised in an environment where waiting is a thing. Instant feedback on almost everything is the norm.

As a manager in the workplace,  consider ‘checking-in’ with your millennial employees a few times a day about the assignment that you’ve provided. You might think it is overkill, but to a Millennial, that’s normal. Frequent ‘check-ins’ allow you to assess their ability to stay on task on that assignment you’ve provided them to make sure they understand how to proceed.

Specificity

Accelerating your check-ins is key, but another important element to get Millennials to accomplish their assignments is to provide directions to Millennials with a high level of specificity. Different generations have very different viewpoints on this issue. Boomer and GenXers embrace the notion of doing an assignment their way. They revel in the independence they have—they don’t need a roadmap, they just need a goal and they will likely get it done with little or no supervision. The viewpoint of Millennials is almost exactly the opposite. They are fairly dependent on you as a manager. They want very specific directions on how to do an assignment correctly, and also an explanation for why it is important.

Why is this? It’s because Millennials were raised in a highly planned and structured environment. From childhood, their lives have been heavily managed by their parents. Even their schools advocated a highly planned and structured environment. Free time and play was not something Millennials did—everything was planned for them.  Another contributing factor in their need for specificity is that they hate to take risks and hate to fail. An “opened-ended” assignment for them is viewed as a risk. Their viewpoint is “why should I take a chance on doing an assignment the wrong way when there is probably an already proven way to do it without error”.  Be assured that if there is a YouTube video on how to do something, they are on it.

A LifeCourse Associates survey revealed: “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.” In response, many companies are doing away with the annual performance review. It is being replaced with more frequent meetings, updates, goal tracking and evaluations with more specificity. Major companies doing this include GE, Accenture, Deloitte and more.

As a manager, make sure to provide instructions that have clear goals and clear process with a roadmap that assures them they are going in the right direction. Providing them with frequent cycles of open and honest feedback will have positive affects — increased loyalty, professional satisfaction and more employee engagement. Millennials will feel valued, cared for and motivated to meet their goals. Incorporating these two simple elements—speed and specificity means they’ll be more likely to stay with the company for the long run, ultimately reducing recruitment and retention costs.

 

second wave millennial using a mobile device

Introducing the Second-wave Millennials

Just as you were starting to figure out how to manage Millennials in the workplace, a major generational shift is underway. Coming to a workplace near you: Second-wave Millennials.

Every generation has a first wave (older cohort) and a second wave (younger cohort). Each wave has slightly different traits because they were raised by the parents of two different generations. Older Millennials are First-wavers (as of 2017, ages 25 to 35), and were raised by Baby Boomer parents. Younger Millennials, coming into the workplace now, are Second-wave Millennials (ages 13 to 24) and were raised by Generation X parents.

As an entire generation, Millennials have broad traits and behaviors that are enduring and unique regardless of the generation that raised them. But within these traits there are subtle differences based on how Boomers raised them compared to how Gen-Xers raised them. These subtleties are apparent in behavioral shifts in the workplace — and managers should take note.

These differences include Second-wave Millennials’ seeming lack of capabilities in written communications for the business world. In addition, face-to-face communication coaching may be necessary to ensure Second-wave Millennials receive adequate training and development regarding eye contact, posture, voice volume, and pace.

In addition, Second-wave Millennials may have challenges around their own ability to solve problems and think critically. Managers may need to provide training on problem-solving processes and tactics.

Lastly, Second-wave Millennials tend to have less self-awareness about their role as a team

member in a workplace setting. Navigating their way as part of a team is often perplexing to them.

Second-wave Millennials, despite these challenges in the workplace, can be developed into incredibly valuable employees. They will give their full loyalty and talent to your company if you invest in them.

CoachingMillennials has been working with a group of curriculum designers to create six training modules specifically for the Second-wave Millennials in your workplace. Our signature program is called “Developing Your Emerging Professionals: Gaining the 4 Skills Required for Workplace Success.”

The workshop covers key skills such as self-awareness, communication, collaboration, and problem-solving. Contact me directly if you’d like more information on this workshop:

warren@coachingmillennials.com, or call (703) 559-9130.

trust, communication and flexibility for Millennial employees

How to Attract Millennial Employees: No Ping Pong Table Required

It seems like the dream of most Millennials — an open, modern office with windows, lounges, ping-pong tables, a smoothie bar and nap rooms.

Thanks to images of excess from some of Silicon Valley’s tech start-ups, a lot of executives come to me worried about their office environment. Will their lack of budget (or space) for a ping pong table put them at a disadvantage when it comes to hiring the best and brightest Millennials?

I tell hiring managers that while “perks” like those offered by giants like Google and well-funded start-ups like may attract Millennials, those cool office features don’t keep Millennials fulfilled in the long run.

Hiring is a serious expense and commitment, and if you want the best Millennials to stay with your company for more than a year, there are other things you can — and should — do.

1. Trust is one of the keys to helping Millennials feel professionally valued in the workplace. Allowing Millennials to manage their own schedules, and providing work-life balance assistance through telework or flexible hours shows Millennials that they are trusted. Although new Milennial employees may need guidance and limits on telework and flex scheduling to ensure the team is supported, Millennials like working for companies that don’t chain them to desks when they can work just as productively elsewhere.

2. Communication is critical — especially with telework and flexible scheduling. Millennials appreciate feeling like they are part of a team and understanding their role in a project or event. They crave engagement and comraderie, and they want to feel that their work and role is contributing to a greater good. Open, honest and frequent communication are key to making Millennials feel engaged at work.

3. Provide professional challenges. Despite the perpetual myth that “Millennials are lazy,” they actually thrive in workplaces that offer them challenging-but- achievable goals and projects. Setting incremental deadlines and targets, and communicating how their project and role fit into the company’s mission, will help Millennials see their path forward.

4. Offer mentorships. Millennials (and all new employees) benefit from and appreciate the value that mentorships provide. Millennials particularly have long-term thoughts but short-term patience spans when it comes to career goals and growth, and mentorships can help them understand how they can get from point A to point B by staying with your company. Mentorships can also help them see what skills they need to develop to get promoted, and companies that simultaneously offer these opportunities for professional growth and development are rewarded with employee loyalty.

Overall, Millennials aren’t looking for the coolest open-concept office or best smoothies at work. They do want an open communication culture and the best opportunities for professional growth. Flexibility with work-life balance will help, too. The companies that are able to show those perks are the ones that will attract the best Millennial employees, and keep them around for the long haul.

how to boost millennial engagement in person at work

How Do I Get My Millennials to Engage More In Person?

One trend I’ve been noticing in workplaces is the empty break room, where employees would typically gather to take a break from their work routine. There is a generational explanation for this, and it is not that people are necessarily working harder. The fact is that younger employees are more likely to take breaks at their desk, checking social media on their mobile device, or listening to podcasts.

“The young ones hide behind their computer and simply do not engage in person,” managers of Millennials often lament.

The Digital Footprint Started Early

Millennials are, yes, digital natives. In school and at home, Millennials had more electronicdevices and on-demand media than most Baby Boomers ever dreamed possible. With computers in the classroom and at home, the growing ubiquity of cell phones and (later) smartphones, Internet everywhere, wi-fi and video on-demand, it’s no surprise that the generation that grew up with technology is very comfortable engaging with it. In addition, the ability to work from anywhere for many Millennials has made engaging with people in the physical office less critical to productivity.

Give Them a Good Reason to Engage In Person

In recent years, some companies have tried to rein this in and force more in-person engagement among employees. Most notably, IBM in 2017 brought back into the office the company’s work-at- home employees, terminating most telecommuting options as a way to encourage more collaborative product development, comradery and even company loyalty.

Forcing employees to come into the office is, in part, an overblown response to an ongoing myth about Millennials — that they actually prefer to avoid in-person conversations with others, opting for text instead of talk. In fact, repeated studies have shown that Millennials do like in-person communication and even recognize the importance of it in their own career and professional development.

While digital modes of communication make up an important part of Millennials’ productivity and workflow, it’s not digital over in-person or an either/or choice. While some new employees may retreat to their mobile devices until they develop professional friendships, Millennials do come out of their shell and use in-person communication. In particular, they seem to prefer it to digital communications when they need to get help with a project or task, when it comes to learning career-place skills and processes, and in coaching and mentoring relationships.

Ideas to Help Encourage In-person Communications

For managers of Millennials, there are a number of ways to encourage in-person communication among Millennials and other generations of employees.

Have an open-door policy with both the physical space and with communication styles. Regularly hosting “office hours” (the way Millennials’ college professors did) can encourage Millennial employees to walk into executives’ offices and chat about the workplace, goals and strategies.

Develop mentorship and coaching programs that encourage employees to meet for lunch or coffee to discuss professional development, work-life balance and long-term career goals. Mentorship programs are one of the best ways to help make Millennials more loyal to the company and increase engagement and performance.

Create opportunities for teamwork such as professionally-related volunteer opportunities, in-person trainings and activities. Millennials are more emotionally connected to jobs in which they understand and have an active role in how their company contributes to the “greater good” in the community and in the world.

There’s always food. Last week I had a meeting at Bloomberg’s headquarters in NYC. On the sixth floor is a massive reception area with a smorgasbord of free snacks, and Millennials buzzing around everywhere. Coming out of college, many Millennials are comfortable with food-oriented activities. Few things get people away from their desks like treats in the breakroom — but managers may want to center a meeting or activity around those treats to prevent (or at least delay how quickly) those treats being taken straight back to Millennials’ desks.

how to get millennials to hit deadlines

Can Millennials Hit Deadlines?

 

It happens, and it is annoying— you set deadlines and your employees don’t meet them. But it’s more than annoying—it disrupts workflow, affects productivity, and makes everyone else’s job more difficult. Missing deadlines is a universal problem with all generations, but I more frequently hear from managers that Millennial are not hitting their deadlines.

The most common question I hear is: “How can I get my Millennial employees to actually complete a task on time?!” 

Ditch The Lazy Millennial Myth 

Many managers assume that Millennials don’t hit deadlines because they are lazy. But that’s not why. Contrary to the stereotype, most Millennials are not “lazy,” in fact- they are probably the least lazy generation in the workplace. Millennials crave “busy-ness”. They are always on the move, navigating between different tasks on multiple screens. They are multitasking masters of the universe. And this makes sense if you think about how they were raised in a hyper-stimulated environment where they had back-to-back activities filling up their schedules after school and on the weekends, driven by pushy parents.

In fact, with this high-achieving ethic, sometimes they can bite off more than they can chew and this is what gets them into trouble. This is where good management practices can help, so I have three simple suggestions to get Millennials on track for hitting deadlines.

Do These Three Things

Communicate frequently. Millennials want open, honest and transparent communication. They also crave frequent feedback — the annual review, for them, is archaic and unhelpful. Instead, very frequent ‘check-ins’ that let Millennials answer questions, receive feedback and advice, and tackle the next steps will help significantly. Instead of berating them for blowing a deadline, ask them to take the lead on coming up with the steps they will take to ensure the next deadline is met.

Set incremental goals. Employees of any age may be overwhelmed by one big, long-term project. For Millennials in particular, breaking down a big project into several steps with incremental goals and targets will help move that project along. Some workplaces have even implemented “gamification” into their workflows — using game-like systems to reward employees for meeting incremental goals and promoting teamwork to get larger projects and tasks completed on time.

Promote teamwork. Millennials grew up on organized sports teams, doing group projects at schools, and with an emphasis on the larger community (whether that was their school, church or neighborhood). In the workplace, Millennials often seek a feeling of family, community and teamwork. Ensuring they understand how their work, their piece of that large project and their deadlines will help make everyone more successful can go a long way toward motivating them.

 

concentrate at work

How Can I Get My Millennials to Take Their Work Seriously? 

This is a common question that comes up when I’m speaking or training executives who work with Millennials — “How can I get my Millennial employees to take their work seriously?!”

The idea that Millennials don’t take their work as seriously as their older professional counterparts is largely a myth. Studies have shown that in many ways, Millennials are workaholics. Almost half (48 percent) of Millennials “think it is a good thing to be seen as a work martyr by the boss,” — a higher percentage than any other generation surveyed, according to a research by Project: Time Off.

In addition, Millennials are more likely to forfeit paid time off than members of older generations, according to a Bankrate.com survey.

Work Gets Done, Just Differently

The difference in the way Millennials work is often the cause of the misconception that Millennials aren’t taking work seriously. Technology allows many employees to work anytime, from anywhere. For some employees, that means they need to spend less time at their desk in the office. Social media and online project management systems, email and mobile devices, remote desktops and more let Millennials stay connected to work wherever they are — and many sleep with their mobile devices, checking email before falling asleep and again before their feet hit the floor in the morning. (A Harris Poll survey showed 93 percent of Millennials have admitted to using their phones in bed.)

Getting the Best Work from Milliennials

If Millennials in a workplace don’t seem to be taking their work seriously, managers are often able to correct the situation through effective communication, goal-setting and mentoring.

Millennials are most engaged in their work when a few key factors are in place. They include:

  • Understanding their role in the organization. Millennials grew up with team projects and team sports, where they knew and understood their place and role in the group. They seek that same understanding in the workplace, and managers who communicate effectively about how a Millennial employee’s job is important can help Millennials feel more engaged in their work.
  • Understanding the organization’s role in the larger community, economy and world. Further, Millennials were raised with a sense of community and want to make a difference in helping make the world a better place. Millennials who know how the mission of their company aligns with their personal values, helps people and contributes to a “greater good” in society are more engaged at work. (Many companies have started encouraging volunteerism as both a team-building activity and to show corporate responsibility.)
  • Being provided with long-term and short-term goals and support to succeed. Millennials perform best when they have both short-term, achievable goals with the support to succeed, and long-term plans that include professional development and growth. Millennials like to achieve, and they look for a supportive network of colleagues to help them do so. (This train comes from their parents, teachers and coaches, who raised them in a supportive, encouraging setting and taught them they could do anything they put their minds to.) Cross-generational mentoring programs can provide Millennials with an understanding of how to grow and develop professionally over time, putting their short-term achievements at work into a longer-term context.
  • Enabling open, honest and transparent communications. Millennials are more loyal and engaged with employers who have open-door policies in the way they communicate. Millennials watched their parents fear the surprise layoff, and fostering a culture of openness, honestly and genuineness can help prevent employees from looking for new jobs based on false or incomplete information. Good communication and honest feedback can also help Millennials in their quest to achieve their goals and feel professionally fulfilled.

If All Else Fails…

If you are convinced that your Millennial employee is not taking their job seriously, start a dialogue where he or she does most of the talking and you do most of the listening. Make your case—put all the cards on the table, and do your best to listen. Sometimes it is hard to get to the root cause of the issue, especially if your relationship is strained or frustrating. If that still doesn’t work… well, not all hires are a guarantee fit to the role. But if this is happening with more than one employee, you might need some coaching of your own.

insurance recruiting millennials

How to Maximize Millennials in Insurance

The insurance industry is boring. At least, that’s the way Millennials see it.

Research by the Insurance Institute last year revealed that “boring” was the #1 word Millennials associated with insurance. Those with experience in the industry know that is just not true, but how does the insurance industry break this misperception?  And how can agents and brokers change it?

In many ways, Millennials want from their jobs the same things as previous generations — competitive salary, good benefits and meaningful work. However, Millennials have different priorities and expectations of their workplace and require different best practices to be happy and fulfilled in their career.

Insurance agents and brokers should consider re-thinking their activities to meet these priorities and expectations. These three areas are the building blocks, will be able to attract and retain the best and brightest Millennials.

First Impressions: Digital and High Touch

The first area is getting Millennials’ attention. Doing so will take a coordinated combination of a strong digital presence and a personalized approach to recruiting. This includes a website that is clean, uncluttered, shows the insurance company’s connection to the demands of digital media and showcases the company’s mission and value proposition. As digital natives, Millennials’ first impression of a company often comes digitally. This may mean going beyond a company’s website and focusing on career-focused online presences such as Glassdoor, certain social media platforms and more, in addition to being responsive and approachable both online and off.

Workplace Environment: Teamwork and Positivity

According to the Deloitte Insurance Outlook 2017, technological innovation will be key to meeting challenges in the coming years. Fortunately, digital tools can help with the second area ­of focus — creating and promoting a company climate that is positive and team-oriented. Millennials prefer teamwork over competition and gravitate toward conscientious employers who try to make a positive difference. In addition to showcasing this company culture online as a recruitment tool, Millennials will be more loyal to companies that foster their career development, help them achieve their professional goals and publically value their contributions.

Managing Millennials: Mentoring and Coaching

Once your insurance organization has recruited and hired these top-tier Millennials, managing them on a day-to-day basis with close but nurturing supervision, mentoring and coaching. Millennials desire more hands-on interaction with and more frequent feedback from their supervisors than older generations. Good relationships are key to keeping Millennials engaged, and they are attracted to open and honest leadership that encourages input and collaboration.

To learn more about attracting, recruiting and retaining the best Millennials to your insurance company, get on the list (by providing your email address in our Newsletter sign-up box) to receive a notification when the report, Maximizing Millennials for Insurance Agents and Brokers, is released later this year from the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers (CIAB). The report will include examples from insurance companies large and small that have found success in this area and specific action items your agency or brokerage can take to engage Millennial employees.

 

pink collar jobs millennials

Pink Collar Millennials: Recruiting the Best and Brightest Millennials in Healthcare, Education and Social Services

Hourly work has changed significantly in the past two decades, with many blue-collar jobs (particularly in manufacturing and construction) declining in number. But so-called “pink collar” hourly jobs have been soaring, with employment in educational services, healthcare and social assistance increasing substantially. In fact, a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report showed four of every 10 jobs that the United States economy added in December 2016 were in healthcare or social assistance. The boom is expected to last for at least another decade.

Even with the positive job growth, pink collar industries face demographic headwinds, and hiring managers in these fields need to be ahead of the issues to attract and retain top Millennial employees. In these fast-growing industries, it can be difficult to find enough qualified, new workers to fill jobs — finding the best employees and keeping them around is even tougher.

Pink Dominance

Pink-collar jobs tend to skew heavily female, particularly in healthcare and education. The ratio of women to men in health care fields such as home health aides, medical assistance and registered nurses is 9:1, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many men feel unsuited for pink-collar work or are simply uninterested in working in a field so dominated by women, leaving hiring managers with a smaller potential workforce.

The Challenge

Hiring managers in pink-collar industries are thus facing a two-pronged challenge: Find, attract and retain the smartest and hardest-working Millennials, and overcome the stigma some men feel against these fields.
Hiring managers can take specific actions that will help overcome these challenges.

Why Are Millennials So Different?

The first step is to effectively recruit Millennials is to understand what makes them different from older generations. Unlike older generations, Millennials were raised to feel special by their parents who catered to many of their needs. They felt protected and valued, and were encouraged to believe they can achieve anything with the right mindset and support system. Collaboration and teamwork was drilled into them as youth, and this carries with them as adults. Finally, they have a strong kinship with technology—they are comfortable with it and see it as a solution-provider.

What to Emphasize When Recruiting

In recruiting messages, highlight the growth and long-term career potential in your industry. It’s not a difficult story to tell — the numbers speak for themselves in many pink-collar industries like healthcare, education, and social assistance. However, make sure you translate those raw numbers into how a job in the industry can develop into a career with opportunities for advancement, long-term professional satisfaction and work-life balance — the things beyond job security that Millennials are seeking.

Hiring managers should also emphasize how their participation in these pink-collar industries will make a positive difference on society and in their own communities. Millennials desire to be part of something bigger than themselves, so tying their work to a larger mission goes a long way in attracting Millennials.

Finally, Millennials get impatient easily, especially when dealing with outdated technology during the application process. Make sure your application process is clear, simple, and speedy. If its not, the best and brightest will see that as a sign that your company does not appreciate the value of technology that can streamline their work environment once they are there.

Final Word

The demand for pink collar jobs is growing and is likely to keep growing over the next decade. At the same time, demographic trends suggest that the supply of able-bodied workers is decreasing. Combine this with a stigma of pink collar work, and you have a challenging equation for employers. Employers that will come out on top are those that value Millennials and adjust their hiring and career advancement practices accordingly to attract the best and brightest of this generation.

How to Attract and Keep Blue-Collar Millennial Employees

Over the past two decades, the nature of hourly work in the United States has changed dramatically — with blue collar jobs making up a smaller percentage of hourly jobs and technological advancement that has yielded significant growth in productivity.

The result: A drastic decline in the demand for blue-collar workers, and a simultaneous “graying” of that workforce. As industries like construction, transportation and warehousing continue to add jobs and grow, being able to attract, train and retain Millennials will be critical to the health of those industries.

Unfortunately for the current leaders in these industries, Millennials — the very workers who in the years to come will be needed to replace outgoing blue-collar retirees — have shown little interest in blue-collar work.

For example, there is a declining percentage of 25- to 34-year-old workers in construction (6.9 percent in 2015, down from 7.9 percent in 2000). According to a 2013 Georgetown University study, 35% of 18- to 24-year-olds worked in a blue-collar job in 1980. By 2010, that share had dropped to 19 percent as the population of people that age in the United States grew.

Why is this happening? In addition to lower demand in some sectors, like manufacturing, blue-collar work has acquired a stigma that drives away Millennials, including stagnant or low wages, a lower quality of life in these careers and more. Millennials who are choosing hourly jobs are often seeking out those that do not necessarily require continuing education or apprenticeship-like training, such as jobs in sales.

How can managers in these blue-collar fields ensure they’re sending positive messages to potential Millennial employees?

Millennials grew up with specific, unique traits that seem to be remarkably inclusive and cut across demographic categories like race, gender and social class. These include being raised to feel special and central to their parents’ lives, feeling protected, believing they can do anything, being team-oriented, and feeling pressured to succeed and achieve.

For hiring managers, this means there are specific, actionable strategies they can use to attract and retain Millennials in their industry. They include:

  • Making Millennials feel like an important part of the team right away by helping them understand how their roles and responsibilities have a positive effect on those around them.
  • Providing counseling and support on life basics such as preparing taxes and saving for retirement, in addition to giving training on “soft skills” so they behave properly in the workplace.
  • Cultivating an upbeat environment and plenty of positive (and frequent) reinforcement that they’re on the right track toward achieving their goals.
  • Equipping Millennials with ways to obtain additional training to advance in their careers.
  • Emphasizing teamwork over individual competition in the workplace.
  • Defining and putting context around how the job they are doing makes a positive difference in the world around them.

In addition, hiring managers must make dedicated efforts in the hiring process to highlight the long-term career potential and growth in these fields. Counter negative assumptions and stereotypes with success stories and early, positive associations. For example, RV manufacturer Thor Industries offers tours to eighth graders and their parents, and also has a presence in schools that lets both audiences know about the well-paid, stable work environment the company provides. The marketing campaign Go Build Alabama, that highlighted above-average earning potential for skilled laborers and emphasized construction as an accessible field to people without college degrees, helped boost applications to apprenticeship programs in the state by 73 percent. Other states have started replicating the program.

Hiring managers should also promote teamwork and leverage Millennials’ team-oriented attitudes. This means recruiting friend groups and creating immersive, multi-day orientation programs that allow time for new hires to bond with their new co-workers. Allow connections during the workday through social media, text messaging and more without assuming these tools are hurting productivity — they can be incorporated into the ways Millennials are used to working.

On an individual level, Millennials appreciate having clear goals and frequent feedback as they work toward those goals. Millennials want tight cycles of feedback (not just a one-per-year performance review) because they have an innate desire to succeed and please those above them.

Managers and executives should also leave the door open for new hires to contribute their ideas. In industries where there may not be much room for this type of input, make it clear how the work Millennials are doing is integral to the team’s mission. Don’t be shy about expressing appreciation for both their work and their ideas. In addition, emphasize how the work their doing helps the larger world or offer volunteer opportunities to increase professional engagement and fulfillment.

While hiring managers of hourly workers in blue-collar industries say the jobs they offer can offer a steppingstone to a fruitful career, it is up to those same hiring managers to convince young job-seekers of this. That requires a new approach to hiring and coaching Millennials.

 

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.