Accomplished. Entitled. Ambitious. Impatient. Compassionate. Self-centered. Team-oriented. Job jumpers.
These are some of the wide range of terms used to describe Millennials. Born between 1982 and 2004, Millennials will soon be the largest generational group in the U.S. workforce.
Millennials have their own generational distinctions, but they also share several important values with the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who preceded them. A report from IBM’s Institute for Business Value showed similar percentages of all three generations want to make a positive impact at work, help solve social challenges, work with a diverse group of people, be part of a successful organization, do work they care about and find work-life balance.
Here are five tips, grounded in The FISH! Philosophy, to create a culture that energizes and engages Millennials (and every generation):
1. Explain Your Purpose
Every human wants a purpose. But when previous generations didn’t feel that at work, they found it in their families or place of worship. Millennials are not as willing to compartmentalize. Socially conscious, they want to know their job has meaning too, and they will keep searching until they find it.
Leaders must articulate why the job matters. You don’t have to save the whales. Just tell a compelling story about how your work makes people’s lives better, happier and healthier. Celebrate employees when their actions fulfill that purpose and invite them to share their own stories.
2. Encourage Relationships
People of all ages benefit from good relationships at work. When we’re surrounded by people we like, we perform better and are more likely to stay with the job.
Millennials—known for their social connections—value work relationships. They are more likely than older generations to share personal details with fellow workers and get to know them better. Surveys shows 90 percent want coworkers to be their friends.
Friendship alone doesn’t get the work done, but it does build the trust and collaboration teams need to succeed.
3. Recognize in Real Time
Brought up on social media, Millennials quickly respond and comment on what they like. When they do something good at work, they like to hear about it sooner than later.
When you recognize someone, be specific about what they did and how it supported the organization’s purpose. Recognition from peers is meaningful because their peers understand best their contributions. Millennials aren’t as interested in awards based on years of service; they know they are much less likely than previous generations to spend decades with the same organization.
Because Millennials are used to an on-demand world that instantly fulfills their individual desires, avoid one-size-fits-all rewards. Instead, allow employees to choose from a variety of rewards, such as gift cards. It is Make Their Day, after all.
4. Offer Regular Feedback
Millennials are more used to parental involvement—especially as coaches in organized sports—than earlier generations. They want to hear how they’re doing, not just for recognition, but to learn and grow.
More than 75% of millennials say they don’t get regular, meaningful feedback. They want accessible managers who will Be There, offer helpful feedback and work with them positively to develop their strengths.
They may see their job, particularly at this point in their lives, as a steppingstone, but in the meantime, they want to contribute to your organization. The stronger their relationship with their managers, the more likely they are to be engaged and to stay.
5. Play with Ideas
Surveys show most Millennials aren’t looking for a ping pong table and free beer at work (though, like most of us, they wouldn’t turn it down). They are used to sharing their opinions via social media. They want a work culture where they can be heard and Play with new ideas.
Being open to their ideas doesn’t mean letting them do whatever they want. Creativity often thrives when it is forced to operate within a clear playing field. However, within that boundary, when people have promising ideas, let them explore and test them out.
Millennials see change as an opportunity not a disruption. The future belongs to them, but by encouraging their curiosity, they can help you succeed today.