De-mystifying the Millennial Employee

By 2020, millennials will make up half of the U.S. workforce. These millennials workers are more likely to change employers often, and their low engagement and high turnover is causing many organizations to suffer.

At the Chapter Leadership & Legislative Retreat (CL&LR) 2016 in Washington, D.C., this week, attendees tried to crack the code for attracting, retaining and communicating with this key group. A session led by Katie Olbrich of Springboard International helped CL&LR attendees understand generational differences and why it’s so important to recognize and reconcile disparate work styles.

Each generation is shaped by their experiences, and Olbrich identified key traits, values and influential events for Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and millennials, who collectively account for 95 percent of the current work force. Understanding the fundamental differences between these groups helped guide a discussion on strategies for bridging the divide.

Attendees shared strategies for working with millennials colleagues, including:

  • Provide plenty of two-way feedback. Think you’re giving millennials enough constructive criticism? Double it. Millennials crave instant feedback and like to be heard in return.
  • Create incentives and opportunities for growth. Millennials want the chance to grow and gain responsibility. That doesn’t necessarily need to be in the form of a promotion or title change, but perhaps a chance to lead a committee or represent the organization at a training or meeting.
  • Emphasize accountability and reward hard work. When asked to do something, millennials will follow through and they expect others to do the same. Millennials believe all promotions should be awarded based on merit, not on tenure.
  • Let them give back. Millennials are altruistic and seek out organizations whose values match their own. Find a way to incorporate community service or volunteering into your company culture.
  • Help them see their contribution. Millennials want to make an immediate impact and like to see how their work is moving the organization forward. If they feel like just another cog in the machine, they may seek another role where they feel their contribution is more meaningful.
  • Understand what they value. Millennials are attracted to organizations that are innovative, tech-savvy, and purposeful. They look for networking opportunities, exclusivity and benefits, and are especially drawn to groups or companies established by their peers.

Figuring out what makes millennials “tick” can help businesses retain young professionals and keep them engaged and invested in the company’s mission – creating a win-win situation for the short- and long-term.

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