How to manage the millennials

Strategy
 
How can your HR strategy
help you meet your talent needs?
 

What can employers do?

In reality, there are strong similarities between millennials and the generations that have preceded them: they want security and variety in their career; they want to be stretched and challenged; they want to work for a company of which they can be proud; and they have every intention of being loyal.

But there are many ways in which this growing proportion of the workforce is different. They have strong beliefs and expectations that extend to the workplace. There are a number of key steps employers can take to address the concerns that have been raised through this research:

  • Understand them: It’s particularly important to understand and address generational differences and tensions. Use metrics and benchmarking to segment your workforce in order to understand what millennials want and how these desires might be different from older workers. Think about this in the context of your Talent Strategy and Strategic People Plan.

  • Get the ‘deal’ right: It’s important for employers to explain what they are offering a potential employee, but also what they expect in return. Think creatively about reward strategies and what motivates millennials. For example, is it time to shift focus from cash bonuses to other things. And remember, the vast majority were attracted to the prospect of customising their benefits. There is also significant gap between perception and reality when it comes to the promises made by employers on diversity and work/life balance. If employers want to continue to attract millennials, this has to be addressed – companies should review the messages they are sending out and test them against the reality of the employee experience.

  • Help them grow: Managers need to really understand the personal and professional goals of millennials. Put them on special rotational assignments more frequently to give them a sense that they are moving toward something and gaining a variety of experiences. Challenge them to come up with new ways to streamline processes and to exercise creativity. Millennials have a strong desire to work overseas and this is a rich potential resource for organisations focused on global growth. Less desirable locations could be positioned as an important career path milestone. Every opportunity should also be taken to mix teams generationally.

  • Let them know how they're doing: Millennials want and value frequent feedback. Unlike the past where people received annual reviews, millennials want to know how they're doing much more regularly. Give them honest feedback in real time — and highlight positive contributions or improvements on key competencies.

  • Set them free: Millennials want flexibility. They work well with clear instructions and concrete targets. If you know what you want done by when, why does it matter where and how they complete the task? Give them the freedom to have a flexible work schedule. Does it matter if they work from home or a coffee shop or wherever if that’s where they are most productive? Set deadlines and if they meet them, don't worry so much about their tactics and the time they clock in and out.

  • Let them learn: Millennials want to experience as much training as possible. If your organisation is more focused on developing high potentials, or more senior people, then you could risk losing future talent if you fail to engage millennials with development opportunities. Build and measure the effectiveness of mentoring programmes alongside other learning and education.

  • Let them advance faster: Historically, career advancement was built upon seniority and time of service. Millennials don’t think that way. They value results over tenure and are sometimes frustrated with the amount of time it takes to work up the career ladder. They want career advancement much quicker than older generations are accustomed to. So for the high achievers who do show the potential to rise up the ranks quickly, why not let them? A relatively simple solution, such as adding more levels, grades or other ‘badges’, could be enough to meet their expectations.

  • Expect them to go: It’s inevitable that the rate of churn among millennials will be higher than among other generations, especially since many have made compromises in finding their first job, and this should be built into your plans. Do you have a 21st century Strategic People Planning approach?


 
 

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