With 105 million strong in the US, the Millennial generation is now larger than the number of Baby Boomers and Generation X combined. Their presence is felt in the workplace and is creating great diversity in age, work ethic, interpersonal social and communication skills.
Instead of silver spoons in their hands, they were born with computers in their laps and cell phones and iPods attached to their ears. They are the first totally digitized generation and are truly hooked on electronic services. According to Forrester Research, 91 percent of Millennials spend an average of 25 hours per week online accessing it through smartphones, laptops and tablets. In fact, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti says Millennials are obsessed with their mobile devices, even sleeping with them.
The question then becomes: what impact does this have on a multi-generational workforce? And how do you apply this knowledge to increase the performance and productivity of workplace Millennials while maintaining or increasing the productivity of the Boomers and Generation X?
What Influences the Millennial? It is important to understand the shift in what motivates this generation of employees versus previous ones. Millennials want to be appreciated and acknowledged. They prefer working for a company where the corporate culture provides meaningful work, flexibility and gives back to the community. They also want to know what the impact of the work they perform will be in the way of a contribution to the company.
Millennials will know a great deal about your company before ever setting foot in your office because they will have thoroughly researched you online, found compliments and complaints about you and checked with their social media connections for input. Approval and a positive reference or a negative comment from online social media connections will make them more interested in becoming part of your workforce – or not.
Use Technology to Influence a Digital Workforce: This major shift in the composition and needs of the new workforce requires a new set of skills, including communications that engage them so they want their performance and productivity to be part of their identity while meeting your expectations.
Set expectations on day one. To create company loyalty and a desire to meet or exceed productivity expectations, set expectations both in the interview process and on their first day as part of the workforce. Let them know exactly what is expected of them, what they are responsible for and how that fits in to the overall company plan. They will not settle for doing something they do not like or are not interested in or passionate about. The clearer you can make your company expectations, the better the performance and productivity of your workforce Millennial.
This practice should not be limited just to this generation. It is simply a good business practice and should be applied to the entire workforce. How can you expect them to perform well if they do not know what is expected of them and why?
Ask them to participate in planning. Millennials not only want to know the what, but the why. Why is the job they are expected to do important to the overall wellbeing of the company? Why will what they do make a difference and how does it fit into the overall plan?
Because of this generation’s need to be listened to and heard, involve them in the planning process. Use brief in-person meetings, think tanks; or online chats and in-house Skype calls or Google hangouts to communicate. Use the technology they love to get them engaged and involved. Their participation and performance will improve and so will your profits.
Emotionally connect through technology. Speaking their language leads to loyalty and trust. While older members of your workforce may still prefer face-to-face meetings, the Millennials actually prefer digitized communications. They are looking for emotional connection, which to them leads to trust. They respond to visual and audible communications. Consider having a company Facebook page accessible only by your in-house workforce; use texting and social media platforms that can be set up in a secure way to maintain company privacy.
And don’t forget the Boomers and Generation X – they are more digitally savvy that you might think. They may not love it but they realize technology has long swept past television, radio and bulletin boards as being the only methods of communication.
The influence of technology and digital communications is here to stay. Have you prepared for the new digitized workforce? Starting today will help you catch up to a fast- paced ever-changing generation of employees.
Pat Heydlauff speaks from experience. She works with organizations that want to create an environment where employees are engaged, encouraged and involved, and with people who want to be in control, anxiety-free and confident. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Engage: How to Lead with Power, Productivity and Promise and Feng Shui: So Easy a Child Can Do It. She can be reached at 561-799-3443 or engagetolead.com.