Welcome to the 21st Century: Here’s How to Inspire Your Millennial Workforce

JD Supra Perspectives

“Millennials have been called the ‘Me, Me, Me Generation’ by Time Magazine; ‘entitled’ by just about everyone; and ‘slackers’ by many managers...” (Ben Gipson of DLA Piper)

Forget the negative things you may have heard about the latest generation of employees. Millennials – young adults born after 1980 now entering the workforce – are more educated, more concerned for others, and less interested in material goods than previous generations, according to Emily Esfahani Smith and Jennifer Aaker writing in The New York Times. They’re also different from your other employees:

“Millennials appear to be more interested in living lives defined by meaning than by what some would call happiness. They report being less focused on financial success than they are on making a difference. A 2011 report commissioned by the Career Advisory Board and conducted by Harris Interactive, found that the No. 1 factor that young adults ages 21 to 31 wanted in a successful career was a sense of meaning.”

So what does this all mean for HR managers and employers?

Only this: because millennials will comprise 75% of all workers by the year 2025, your future success will depend on harnessing their energy and passion. Here are five ways to do that:

1. Tell them how their work helps others

“The Chief Talent Scout at a major company reports that Millennials can, and do, work extraordinarily hard IF they believe in the mission and believe they are making a difference. Managers MUST make a direct connection between the work and the benefit it provides to others.” (Ben Gipson)

2. Provide them with stable, long-term opportunities

"Millennials may be willing to hop from opportunity to opportunity, but more often than not this is an effort to find stability. Employment has changed, and many young people take jobs that are temporary, low-paying, and subject to radical change at a moment’s notice.  The ability to abandon jobs like these when they turn sour is a defense mechanism… […] If [millennials] favor flexibility and monetary benefits over promises of advancement and stability, this may be because they believe any promise of stability is an illusion.” (John Baum at Hirschfeld Kraemer)

3. Recognize their contribution

“Millennials need that constant reinforcement that you, in fact, know who they are. […] The key is that managers need to be ‘retail politicians’ who can pump hands, remember names (and hobbies, interests, etc.). Equally important, managers cannot wait for the annual review cycle to give feedback. If you plan on telling Millennials what a great job they are doing at their annual performance review, it may be too late.” (Gipson again)

4. Give them a chance to grow

“Young people are never static – and many young people may see employment as an opportunity to improve themselves.  They will actively seek chances to supplement their skills.  Early employment isn’t a terminal point in their development, it’s the beginning.  Companies that foster this development will be more likely to see their younger employees learn, grow, and shed any entitlement they initially had.” (Baum again)

5. Create a team environment

“Millennials are seldom ‘go it alone’ players or rugged individualists. Thus, don’t try to make them act this way. Working together with them to create goals and helping them map out the skills they need to develop to succeed will succeed. Likewise, managers should provide a team environment where Millennials can bounce ideas off of others and feel like they are part of a community.” (Gipson again)


The updates:

And related:


[Image credit with thanks: flickr]



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