This generation is accustomed to moving fast, processing large quantities of information, developing mobile apps as teens, and teaching themselves programming languages like C++.
For example, at the age of 15, William Kamkwamba used scrap materials to install electricity and irrigation in his village with only a book to instruct him.
Nobody can fault that Malawian’s ambition and application, but a growing number of his Millennial peers can come off as lazy.
Millennials’ aptitudes contribute to their reputation as instant gratification-seeking and entitled, and workplaces have struggled to negotiate culture clashes and harness the generation’s talents in the longer term.
Millennials’ desires for coaching and greater purpose in the workplace make sense, though: Changes in popular approaches to parenting have prevented many Millennials from reaching developmental benchmarks that typically create a sense of purpose.
Psychologist Hara Estroff Marano argues that without certain formative challenges, kids become “risk-averse … psychologically fragile” and “riddled with anxiety.”
To be sure, Millennials report more stress than any other generation.
This trend, along with the demographic increasingly joining the workforce, presents a challenge and an opportunity for managing Millennial talent. The Pew Research Center estimates that 18 to 34-year-olds make up one-third of the current workforce and will grow to nearly 50 percent by 2025.
Harnessing the generation’s potential could have a prolonged effect on the workplace, so how can managers and executives best cultivate those capabilities?
First, Play the Culture Match Game When Hiring
Company leaders work hard to define and craft successful cultures, so they should position their companies to attract Millennial hires who match and exemplify those cultural attributes.
Coach prospective hires on what sets your company apart. Highlight company philosophy, activities, workflow, amenities, or other distinguishable traits. This will spawn helpful questions from your interviewees as they analyze whether they would be good fits for your organization and vice versa.
Management should identify the organizations these prospective hires might populate, such as universities or local nonprofit groups, and send representatives to campuses or ask executives of like-minded charities to size up fresh talent for culture fit more naturally than hiring managers can during job interviews.
At Forte Strong, we work closely with nearby Dixie State University to help nurture those on the cusp of entering the workforce, contributing each year to a leadership class populated by student government members, club presidents, and university committee members.
We set up mock interviews and teach concepts we’ve absorbed into our company culture while keeping a close eye on potential culture fits and tapping our university connections for referrals of students with superior leadership traits or passions that align with our work.
Related Article: Who Are You Hiring? Meet the Millennials [INFOGRAPHIC]
Once Hired, Nurture Their Talents
Today’s Millennial employees don’t see work and their personal lives as separate entities; instead, they view their jobs as important aspects of their lives and don’t seek balance so much as fulfillment. With work so deeply ingrained in their worldviews, Millennials’ ultimate goal is maximizing their personal potential.
Forty percent say they want management to “empower their employees,” and strong mentor relationships can provide the necessary boost.
Assign those workers unfamiliar undertakings that foster new skills. My Millennial coaching business always seeks meaningful ways to challenge clients, helping them gain confidence, strengthen their work ethic, and find motivation to see projects through. And we assign employees passion projects that mesh with our program.
A former employee who was also a National Guardsman, for example, created a fitness challenge to help our clients reach their health goals and develop competitive drive. Similarly, if a Forte Strong staff member is a gifted writer, we might have her contribute a blog post, or we might ask a high-level thinker to outline functions for a mobile app in development. Investing in employees’ interests ensures they reinvest their talents in us.
Further Invest in Their Growth by Encouraging an Environment of Close Interpersonal Communication
Many Millennials are so used to communicating via technology that face-to-face conversations can be challenging, but the best solution is practice. I work with some students so anxious about the thought of personal interaction that they prefer to call businesses to inquire whether they’re hiring rather than apply in person.
Because many people would rather receive or communicate via text, this doesn’t always allow them to develop interpersonal communication skills or to communicate using nonverbal strategies.
Normalize face-to-face communication and make it part of everyday business. If your employees work in a maze of cubicles and normally converse only via phone and email, then ask them to leave their desks to talk with colleagues. Give employees subjects to research and then ask them to present their findings to a team. Not only will everyone learn together, but employees will also be able to practice personal interaction.
Related Article: How to Lose a Millennial in 10 Days
Retain Slippery Employees by Securing Their Hard-Won Loyalty
Because Millennials love causes bigger than themselves, companies should track their employees’ sources of inspiration through surveys charting their goals, interests, and feelings. Facebook, the first Fortune 500 company founded by a Millennial, polled employees over the past seven years and found that fulfillment, authenticity, strength, learning, and initiative served as the biggest motivators for Millennials.
Managers can check their employees’ pulses with similar surveys, asking them whether they feel their work contributes directly to the company’s progress, whether and where they find purpose in their jobs, whether they feel respected and motivated, and which duties they enjoy most or least.
Millennial workers express interest in using personal growth opportunities to demonstrate value to the company, and involving them deeply in the company’s mission creates a system of engagement.
After engaging Millennial talent, leaders need new ways to connect and assist their young workers in maintaining motivation, and that starts with mirroring their adaptability.
Demonstrating loyalty and passion, starting with the recruiting process and continuing with ongoing coaching, is the cornerstone of cultivating a young staff that can sustain a company’s growth.