According to Gallup, only 29% of millennials are engaged at work, 16% are disengaged to the point of doing damage to their company, while a shocking 55% are not engaged. Before we jump to any conclusions and accuse 45.65 million people in the U.S. alone of being lazy and irresponsible, it’s important to understand this generation, which will make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025, and its system of values. Dubbed “the me me me generation” by Time magazine, people born between 1980 and 1996, have often been called self-centered, entitled, and narcissistic, but it’s only fair to give them the benefit of the doubt and see them from a different perspective. Instead of all these insulting generalizations, we’ll see that they’re individualists who prefer coaching to management, and work-time balance to big fat paychecks. Being aware of these facts, it’s maybe a bit clearer how to motivate them and use their immense potential.
Work to live
Not the other way around. This is in a way the credo of the Millennial generation, and this is the first thing to have in mind when employing them. They simply value their private life above all those well-paid extra hours, and employers should respect that if they want to have engaged and inspired workers on their team. Such an attitude can be explained by the fact that Millennials witnessed when their parents, the yuppies from the 1980s, lost their jobs and life-savings in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008, and this had a tremendous impact on their priorities.
The 9-to-5 is dead
In a similar vein, Millennials aren’t keen on the 9-to-5 grind, and they’re more comfortable with the flextime and telecommuting. They value their family, as well as their free time, too much to spend hours and hours in a stuffy office or on their way to work. The fact that they’re digital natives, meaning that their smartphones, tablets, and laptops have practically become extensions of their bodies, allows them to work whenever and wherever they like. Studies have shown that such a practice can boost productivity, not to mention that it will help companies to cut commuting costs. It goes without saying the ability to work from the comfort of one’s own home can significantly enhance employee satisfaction, which can make them focus on their career improvement in the long run.
While it’s true that Millennials are individualists, they’re known to prefer working in groups. This doesn’t mean that they can’t make decisions on their own, but that they are more data-driven as they want the input of their colleagues. Apart from this face-to-face networking at work, Millennials also take advantage of all kinds of digital and social media platforms in order to build and nurture professional relationships. This skill is a great asset, but many employers fail to recognize it and miss out on various business opportunities and connections that Millennials would be able to forge.
The why matters
A couple of decades ago, bosses were expected to give orders and boss around, while employees were expected to perform their tasks without questioning anything. But, this dogmatic approach no longer works, and employers need to give a heartfelt answer to their Millennial employees when they want to know why the company made a certain decision. This will bring them closer to the company, help them understand why their work is meaningful, and how it will contribute to the company’s success. By going the extra mile and including Millennials in decision-making processes, companies will get their full attention and engagement.
Give them feedback
If they get little or no feedback, 4 in 10 employees become actively disengaged. Throughout their education, Millennials’ can-do attitude was constantly encouraged by their teachers, tutors, and parents, while social media platforms and IMs gave them an opportunity to get immediate and instant feedback, which hadn’t been the case with earlier generations. Employers should appreciate this fact because it reflects the Millennials’ desire to learn, grow, and be better professionally. Quarterly reports are too scarce and generic, so it’s important to provide them with the input on their work on a regular basis, as they tend to interpret the lack of it as a proof that their efforts aren’t recognized, and this, in turn, leads to disengagement.
It’s safe to say that Millennials can be excellent and resourceful employees when their employees understand their modus operandi and push all the right buttons.