Keep your best millennial workers happy
In this brave new world, millennials value different things from their parents. It isn’t about the 5Cs - the cash, car, credit card, condominium and country club membership. We're looking for empowerment and experiences to grow from. Millennials are excited by change and dynamism; static career paths aren't for us.
We’re a different breed altogether, and what’s worked before may not work anymore, so here are 10 things companies can do to keep millennials from thinking the grass is greener on the other side.
1. Show how we fit into the company vision
Many millennials are active in charity work because we want to make the world a better place. Similarly, we want to make a difference not only to the company, but also the people it serves. Companies can help millennials see the impact they have on both the workplace and end-users by including them in meetings and brainstorming sessions. This helps them identify as part of a larger ecosystem, and discover meaning that stretches beyond their 9-6 time slots.
Share the company vision and mission with them, even if they’re entry-level staff, so that they feel like - and are treated like - a part of a forward thinking organisation.
2. Encourage them to be your brand ambassadors
Millennials are a generation that’s constantly on the move - with budget flights and Airbnbs, we can go anywhere at any time. That’s why it’s difficult for us to stay at our desks all the time. Companies can encourage millennials to head out and network, meet clients, and attend events. This prevents work from becoming stagnant, and gets the company name associated with youth and vibrancy!
3. Don't just throw menial chores to them
It’s a time-honoured tradition for newbies to be on the receiving end of housekeeping and other humdrum duties. We don’t mind it and we get that we have to pay our dues, but after a while, it can get demeaning. After all, we were hired to do more than buying coffee and photocopying stuff.
Companies with positive work environments encourage staff to rotate such duties - once a while, have more senior team members do a quick coffee run. If everyone helps out with miscellaneous duties - for example, in TSL, we take turns to clear out the trash - it becomes a part of the company culture rather than saikang that only newbies do.
4. Give them opportunities to learn more when they earn it
For a generation with 20+ ice-cream flavours to choose from at any given ice cream parlour and over 100 Tinder profiles to swipe every evening, we’re all about choice. Millennials are not going to be content to do the same thing for ten years.
Expose us to different aspects of a project, give us a secondary marketing portfolio, and train us to develop our skills in different areas. We’ll get the dynamism we want, and you’ll get well-rounded workers who are eager to step up and mentor a next generation. .
5. Show them a larger degree of trust
Yes, when you first hire someone, check in for the first few months to make sure everything's running smoothly. But the only reason to still be micromanaging every aspect of our jobs 9 months later, would be if you had hired someone unqualified.
If you won't trust us to do something as simple as sending an email to a client, we'll think you won't trust us with more meaningful work, even if that's not how you see it. Instead of peering over our shoulders at every little step, get us to check in with you at specific stages of a project. Trust is a two-way street, and it goes a long way in creating a great employer-employee relationship.
6. Set out clear steps for career progression
Millennials have been raised to believe that the sky’s the limit, and we want to keep moving forward to the next level. No one wants to be stuck in a job with no chance of promotion and progression, right?
Companies can have leadership training and programmes in place, and cultivate workers’ skills and encourage them to develop these skills. Highlight opportunities for promotion and further development - if folks feel there’s room for them to move up the ladder and that they can achieve that within a reasonable time frame, they’re more likely to stay rather than jump ship.
7. Make sure that they know you appreciate their efforts
This applies to everyone. Nobody wants to work hard and give their 110% to be underappreciated. Millennials are often misunderstood as being "needy", but just like how there are different love languages, millennials also understand appreciation differently. Start a more obvious culture of appreciation - a simple “thank you” goes a long way.
Show appreciation to employees who’ve been doing well, such as entrusting them with bigger projects or bigger clients, to prepare important presentations, or even the opportunity to mentor an intern.
8. Be flexible with your rules
In a world where we can check email at anytime and work from anywhere, there’s no longer a clear separation between work and personal time - both aspects of our lives are closely entwined, and we prefer instead to have flexibility and balance with our time. Plus, if we really like our jobs, we’ll gladly toil through late nights and work outside of office hours to get it done.
Millennials are always sharing articles about flexi-work hours and companies giving unlimited leave because in an era of technology, “showing face” doesn’t matter - trust does, and it doesn’t make a difference where work gets done, as long as it's done.
9. Maintain a positive company culture
Often, one of the main reasons cited for leaving a company is company culture. If you have a toxic, backstabbing environment where everyone’s only in it for themselves, your best employees are going to leave.
Create an open environment and a collaborative culture, where ideas flow freely among the staff. Encourage your staff to build rapport, have meals together, and support each other in a culture of care - you’re more likely to retain employees like that, never mind just the millennials.
10. Be the role models we can aspire to be
There are different types of successful bosses, from visionary bosses like Steve Jobs, to charismatic ones like Elon Musk. Regardless of management style, the common trait that successful bosses have is their unrelenting focus on finding win-win solutions for their clients. We'll see it, and we'll respect it, and we'll work with you to achieve the company's goals.
If your company policy is “we do what’s best for the client”, but we see the company pushing expensive products that aren't the best fit for the clients simply to turn an easy profit, we'd feel disillusioned. We know the company has to be profitable, but making profits at the expense of clients is a red flag for most millennials.
What millennials really want
A friend of mine once mentioned that “millennials don’t really want different things, it’s just that how we want to get there is different". We have different priorities, but ultimately everyone wants the same thing: to have a good job, to live comfortably, and to be happy.
And if you’re looking for a place to build up a good career, where you have the freedom to be entrepreneurial and make a difference in the lives of those you serve, there are many organisations out there that offer you all that you want. One such place is Prudential.
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This post was brought to you by Prudential.