Tess C. Taylor, PHR, The HR Writer
Move over corporate America – here come the Millennials! Human Resource managers everywhere are baffled by the onset of a workforce that’s a lot harder to keep motivated and engaged at the office. It should come as no surprise that Millenials, also sometimes referred to as Generation Y, are a challenging group of employees to keep inspired at work. While their predecessors, the Baby Boomers and Generation Xers start to move out of entry level roles and into their more mature career phases, Millenials are moving in and it’s creating quite a problem for old-school HR departments.
How Millennials Challenge the Fabric of Corporate America
As the workforce is transformed by a younger, more technologically advanced employee base, the dilemma that many HR teams are finding is keeping this very talented generation actively involved in their roles and responsibilities. Millennials, those workers who were born sometime around 1982 onward and who are now in their mid-20s and 30s, are taking the workplace by storm, bringing with them a very contagious level of energy and innovation like never before experienced.
It’s true that Millennials are a valuable asset to any organization, but at the same time they can prove to be troublesome for management who do not understand their unique nature. For one, they are the first generation that’s plugged in 24/7 to technology. This leads to frequent distractibility and a general loss of interest in projects. But at the same time, this same trait makes them adept problem-solvers because they are tapped into resources that past generations only dreamed about.
Millennials are highly creative and they thrive in collaborative work environments where they can share ideas openly and receive immediate praise. This is due to the need for social acceptance and an insatiable drive for advancement at work – often only weeks into a new job. However, they also step on a lot of toes of seasoned workers who believe in earning respect through strategic hard work and seniority. Many younger workers like to play as hard as they work, which is seen as “goofing off” by workers who have worked a lot of overtime and like the formal structure of the corporate environment.
It’s no wonder that the older generations stand back and say “wow” many times when dealing with this up-and-coming group. Millennials represent a new way of thinking about work in many ways.
Milennials Represent a Tough, but not Impossible Group of Employees to Keep Engaged
For the above reasons, and others, management may find it difficult to keep Millennials interested and on task. Established employees may find it impossible to get through to them at times because they are on their own level. Unless you understand how Millennials think, what they enjoy about their work lives, and what motivates them the most – you can expect to have a tough battle ahead of you in terms of maintaining engagement.
The good news is that that is IS possible to keep Millennials interested in their jobs and harness this amazing generation of employees in several ways.
- Give Them Interesting Tasks
Millennials like a challenge. Unlike other employees who may give up easily, Millennials will power through when given a difficult project that requires complex thinking and strategy. Ask yourself what projects are available that will get their creative juices flowing and then distribute sections of tasks that have stumped some of your other workers.
- Give Them Prompt Feedback
To incentivize the performance of your youngest workers, feed into their need for frequent input by giving them feedback… and often. How often, you may ask? At least once a week at minimum. You’ll find that Millennials like to hear how they are doing, good or bad, and they are open to learning what they need to in order to work to higher standards.
- Give Them a Casual Work Environment
There’s a lot to be said for both Generation X and Y work styles, which are often outside of the cubicles and in seating areas that allow for open dialogue and visual stimulation. Move away from stuffy board rooms and attire and improve things with casual work spaces and dress codes. A good way to keep your Millennials engaged in work is to open up the work environment to include areas where they can unwind and relax when they need to. After all, being so brilliant takes a lot of energy.
- Give Them Work Life Balance
A great many young workers feel burnt out and overwhelmed by their jobs, friends, and family lives. This is because they have a difficult time separating themselves from work and personal time. To help keep Millennials engaged in their jobs, enforce work hours that enable them to take time off as needed. Give them the option to telecommute at least a couple of days a week to reclaim time lost to long commutes. Provide onsite wellness services like massage therapy and healthy meals to reduce stress.
- Give Them Respect
All any worker is looking for today is a sense of respect and admiration from peers. You can help facilitate this by making respect at work a key value that all employees are to follow. This can be tough with three very different generations currently in the workplace, but it must be emphasized at all levels. Millennials need to feel valued and that their ideas and work are being taken seriously in order to remain engaged.