How to successfully manage and collaborate with millennials

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Sanne Villemoes

Information about Sanne is on the way

2018-10-05 | Sanne Villemoes

Let us begin with two questions: are you confused about how to best manage millennials at your workplace and how to adjust to their changing needs? Do you have a hard time consuming all of the information which is to be found about millennials and distinguish right from wrong?

If no: perfect, well done!

If yes: no worries.

We are here to help you.

Last week, we wrote about the battle against the millenniums and the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, we also promised that we would come back to you with 5 tips on how you work with and manage millenniums – without any of the overly broad generalisations and categorizations that are to be found. Therefore, as promised, we provide you with our top 5 tips based on our own experience as millennials supported by buckets load of academic research.

Tip 1: Give feedback

Long gone are the days of annual reviews, now, millennials (and non-millennials) desire face-to-face feedback in real time. According to PwC's Millennials at Work study, one of the strongest millennials’ traits is the desire for regular and detailed feedback. Furthermore, they found that only one percent of millennials stated that feedback is unimportant to them.

Hence, consider to implement a company-wide feedback policy or system because it is truly a win-win situation; people thrive when they receive constructive feedback which naturally will benefit your company and furthermore, millennials are more motivated to work for leaders who value feedback from their employees.

Tip 2: Embrace flexibility

Flexibility and freedom are the two key words when talking to and about millennials. Despite other people’s assumptions (we will not mention any names), millennials are not lazy. Stop misunderstanding this generation. Millennials will work for you; however, you need to trust them and embrace a more flexible work culture without excessive work demands which harms one's personal life. You need to trust that their results are more important than the hours they put in – and they will deliver. Actually, in today’s Western society, there is really no excuse for not implementing a flexible work culture – most white-collar employees have access to their work wherever they are.

If you are still in doubt whether you should embrace a more flexible work culture, we can inform you that a flexible work culture increases employee retention, boost personal well-being, improves organisational performance and encourages accountability. Furthermore, research shows that employee happiness is directly correlated with company performance. Hence, if your employees become happier (and more productive) working whenever and wherever they want – why not embrace it?

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Tip 3: Create a technology-positive culture

To quote Simon Sinek: “Today’s kids have far more technological options than ever”, and millennials are the first generation born in a digital age. Hence, it is conceivable that millennials are biased toward utilising technology aids, thus, technology in the workplace should be a top priority. Referring back to PwC’s Millennials at Work study, 59% of the respondents accentuated that a technology-positive culture is an important factor when they apply for and consider a job.

When we are talking about a technology-positive culture, it is important to remember that it also includes providing the right technological aids as they will increase efficiency and flexibility.

Tip 4: Create an emotional culture

This is might one of the most important tips due to that a company’s culture is indissolubly linked to millennials’ happiness and loyalty. Actually, PwC's NextGen study found that an emotional connection to the company lowered retention. Let us further explain.

First, the majority of millennials crave a social workplace which is community-oriented, hence, their co-workers become a second family. A more open work community fosters more effective collaborations which have been linked to workplace efficiency, stronger business results, and higher productivity. Furthermore, a strong work culture often nurtures greater innovations.

Secondly, several studies have found that millennials believe that being passionate about a role with great colleagues is more important than a high salary. Actually, a study found that 64% of millennials would choose to make $40,000 a year at a fulfilling job than $100,000 a year at a job which they think is boring. Thus, help your employees by creating a workplace, a work culture and a position which they enjoy.

Finally, according to Deloitte, and our own experience for that matter, millennials are more loyal to your company if you engage with social issues such as income inequality, corruption, and climate change. Two-thirds of millennial employees state that it is important to them that their employer contributes to ethical or social causes as it produces positive employee sentiments.

Tip 5: Do not resist change

Once upon a time, when students finished their studies they quickly secured steady jobs with an established employer and stayed there for life. Both my mother and father have worked at the same place for over 30 years. However, times have changed. Things are a little different. Millennials expect to change jobs frequently, and they are more willing to do so if the work is not living up to their expectations, some of them mentioned above. However, instead of dreading this, you should embrace it and support it. In fact, reassure your employees that they can talk to their manager about their thoughts about changing job as it is a conversation that both parties can benefit from – communication is essential.

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Ultimately, a millennial-friendly workplace embraces the changes and openly communicate about everything – whether it be the company’s mission and vision or career progression. Taking this approach will ensure your company to continuously evolve and adapt to your employees' needs where people can learn from each other.

However, do also remember what we mentioned last week - that Millenniums are different individuals too (as every other employee you have) with different values and skillsets. Hence, treat them like it – essentially, it all comes down to one thing: when your employees flourish, everyone benefits.

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