Every generation has its own unique perspective and approach to family, work, finances, and the social and political systems, etc. And every generation complains about the generation after them! The Traditionalists complained about the Baby Boomers; the Baby Boomers complained about Generation X; and now everyone seems to be complaining about the Millennials.
I think it is time to have a different conversation. Let’s talk about the positive attributes of the millennial generation. I have had the pleasure of interacting with more and more millennial professionals. They are a very fun and socially conscientious generation. The millennials are confident, and they are not letting their age/gender/sexual orientation/disability/ethnicity/race/religion stand in their way! They are a smart generation, both highly educated and extremely tech savvy. They are open to change and want to learn new skills and improved ways to do things. They are highly collaborative and tend to do very well in teams. They want to be challenged, trained and mentored. They are creative, innovative and believe technology can drive change and new ideas. They are highly sociable and loyal to their peers. They embrace multiculturism and globalism. They are politically savvy. They have a strong sense of civic duty and community responsibility.
It is important to understand the strengths of a generation as much as you know their weaknesses. And while not all characteristics of a generation will be true for each individual, understanding the generalities will help leaders become better at motivating and retaining this generation in the workplace. After you recognize the strengths within the millennial workforce, leaders will be able to modify functions and processes and adopt programs in a manner which capitalize on the numerous strengths within this generation.
For example, let’s say that you have a sales team that is predominantly Millennials. Conduct a SWOT analysis with them. You might be surprised at what they view as the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities. Collaborate with them on each step of the process. Then take those insights and develop a strategy that maximizes their strengths and mitigates their weaknesses.
Since we know that flex-time, time-off and life-work balance are more important to the Millennials than titles and money; does your current benefits and compensation plans reflect this? Does your employee recognition program have components of it that account for the variety of ways that each generation prefers to be appreciated?
Do you have an organized and methodical approach to staff training and development? Do you offer a mentoring program? An organized onboarding program, staff development workshops, a leadership development series, management training, and cross-training programs are just a few examples of programs which help in the recruitment, engagement and retention of the millennial generation in the workplace. Not to mention, quality training and professional development programs deliver a win-win for your organization by increasing your overall employee productivity and improving the consistency and therefore quality of the products and/or services.
Just think, it won’t be too long until the Millennials are complaining about the Generation Z workforce!