Countless stories have been written on studies of millennials as if they are their own species, trying to understand them and figure out how they work. As a millennial, entrepreneur and business owner, I know what it means to be a millennial in the workplace, work with millennials, and admittedly know what they want and need to be successful not only for a company’s bottom line, but also for their own personal success.
Here’s how you should nurture the professional development of millennials in your workplace:
Mentorship and On-Going Educational Training
Make note of and understand the goals of your team members, then take the time to develop a step-by-step personalized plan to help them reach those goals. I’ve learned that so many – if not all – of my employees respond well when I take into consideration what they are trying to accomplish long term. It’s one of the reasons I always ask during an interview: “Where do you see yourself in five years?” There is usually a rough idea of the end goal for their growth within a firm. When you take an interest in their future, they take an interest in themselves to make the extra effort through their work.
Team members also love being mentored by senior employees. The second you open up to them about your experiences, they start to ask questions to see how they can learn from your lessons. This all ties into personal development, which seems to be a larger factor than the figure on their paycheck. Mentoring isn’t solely about preaching your story or telling them what is right and wrong, as you want to make an effort to let them learn by doing it themselves. Webinars are a great way to introduce a new method or type of skill, and then let them use those examples and create mock-tasks to implement those new techniques.
As a boss, just engage. You’re the person they are likely looking to become five or 10 years down the line. Millennial team members love when you interact with them and they feel they are learning from you directly. This makes them feel a part of the team, which then bleeds into work culture.
Workplace Culture and the Collaborative Environment
After talking with baby boomers, Generation X executives and successful millennial entrepreneurs, one thing seems commonplace across the board with millennial team members: They want to do something that feels worthwhile. The best way to make their jobs seem worth it is by creating a workplace culture that encourages a work/life balance.
Work/life balance requires encouraging them to unplug, as well as coordinating functions as a group to do outside of work, which enables employees to engage with one another on a personal level. This can help them streamline processes as a team, make their work more turnkey, and allows them to relate to one another’s experiences to learn from one another.
The best workplace culture combines encouragement for personal learning, regular feedback, constant collaboration, and the inclusion of all team members in all aspects of work. Since millennials are inherently collaborative, this allows for their work habits to be flexible and helps better hold their attention because in order to succeed they must build off one another. Providing a specific setting that resonates and provides resources for team members helps them to exchange individual work habits with group development through a collaborative experience.
Office Morale and Positive Reinforcements
Millennials are not entitled to be given a pat on the back when they do the simplest task correctly, but they do deserve positive reinforcement regardless of the fact that we’re paying them. Millennial team members look for constant feedback and positive reinforcement. In order to do this, you need to make millennials feel like there is purpose in their position. Senior team members should motivate millennials to feel as if they are making a difference with their work and feel secure in knowing and benefiting from the brand, as well as implementing professional habits into their arsenal of personal development skills.
Many millennial team members are outspoken, ask questions without being shy about it, and feel like they can achieve anything if they have the proper focus and access to resources the company can provide them. Office morale should be centered around productivity that leads to rewards. These rewards can be based on promoting a sense of belonging within the company through long-term relationship building and professional development opportunities.
In essence, you have to be willing to give in order to get. Millennial team members are willing to work harder when they know that you believe in them and they believe in the company.