Motivating Millennials

This blog post was inspired by the GLTaC Blog post about which jobs produce the best managers and is a common topic of conversation among managers of Language Service Providers (LSPs). It was written by Richard Brooks, the CEO of the UK-based LSP K-International, a company specializing in legal translations services.

Motivating Millennials 

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What is a Millennial?
American authors William Strauss and Neil Howe identified Millennials as being born between the years of 1982 - 2004, some debate exists around the precise birth years necessary to make one a Millennial (some say Millennials were born as early as 1980 and no later than 2000, while others say Millennials were born in or after 1983, and no new Millennials were born post 1994). Practically speaking, Millennials are a group of people who came of age in the internet era- they don't really remember a pre-digital age.

Typical Millennial traits are also held to be a lack of steadfastness in chosen careers -Millennials change jobs more frequently than their predecessors- and political liberalism. Some negative stereotypes abound- Millennials have been negatively characterised as "entitled", even "lazy" (I have even heard them described as not knowing the difference between a carrot and a stick), but love them or loathe them, Millennials are the force of the future. For businesses to succeed in the future, they need to embrace Millennial culture.

Common Millennial Values
Generally speaking, Millennials don't like to be tied to traditional or a fixed workplace- hence the rise of working anywhere there's a good wifi connection.

Similarly, large face-to-face meetings with groups of others are less popular with Millennials- if they can connect via social media, FaceTime, or Skype, they will: this goes both professionally and socially. Millennials have also embraced "lifelong learning" to a greater extent than earlier generations: and with endless YouTube tutorials, university courses offered for free online, and the potential to teach yourself code or even PowerPoint at home, it makes sense for older workers to get in on the action too.

How Do Millennials Differ from Generation X?
Because many or most Millennials in the developed world are digital natives, they have embraced technology in a way that Generation X hasn't: they are apparently 2.5 times more likely to be early adopters of brand new technology than their Generation X counterparts.

They think outside the box when it comes to financing new business ideas, too: crowd-funding sites such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe are all runaway successes- and Millennial ideas. Similarly, contactless payment schemes have also been embraced more rapidly by Millennials and Millennial-owned businesses.

How Should Employers Motivate their Millennial Employees?
It has been suggested that top-down management doesn't work as effectively for the current generation entering (and indeed gradually taking over) the workforce.

While in the past the baby boomer generation encouraged their employees to pay their dues and not ask too many questions, it's now incumbent upon the current generation of employers to ensure that their Millennial colleagues feel challenged, recognised, and given meaningful work. One way to do this is to give Millennials a lot of short term goals: rather than rare promotions with large raises in pay, smaller promotions and rewards with lesser additional duties- which come along much more frequently- let Millennial employees feel more valued, and give them a sense that they are progressing in their careers.

How to Attract Millennial Employees
Thanks to an emphasis on collaborative working in schools and universities in recent years, most are happy working as part of a team or in groups, and an open-plan office with friendly teams who work (and possibly socialise) together is highly attractive to younger employees. Being able to present an environment in which employees are given the resources and space to grow within their work -essentially, removing the fear that you are offering a dead-end job- will naturally make any business more appealing to younger workers at the beginning of their careers. Having a protected budget for team entertainment, and allowing teams the independence as to how to spend that money themselves, will also help to foster the kind of environment which will appeal to Millennial job candidates.

How to Retain Millennial Workers
Simply put, it's constant feedback. The traditional yearly evaluations don't cut it with Millennials. They appreciate coaching and mentoring- it's the way they've been raised and educated to date, so you can hardly blame them. Interaction with leaders, including online interaction or short one-on-one meetings with the boss, allow Millennials to feel valued and respected. No-one wants to be micromanaged, but this is larger than that: it's a kind of entrenched behaviour that is intended to advise, encourage, and guide.

It's not about directing the younger employees' every move, it's more about recognising the contribution they're making and guiding them in areas in which they could still improve. Also, let's not forget that Millennials appreciate qualities in their bosses that workers have always appreciated: consistency and fairness, an ability to recognise and celebrate their employees' achievements, and the willingness and wisdom to rise above petty office politics.

 

What do you think?  We would love to hear your comments… please leave me one below.

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