According to the Millennial Majority Workforce Study, 53% of hiring managers say it's difficult to find and retain millennials. There are many reasons behind the retention problem, ranging from insufficient flex time to using outdated mentoring processes and not providing a sense of value in their work. But they all point back to the same underlying issue: Millennials want more from their jobs than just a paycheck, and they need more engagement.
No one said finding, onboarding, and working with millennials was easy. But you can quickly resolve millennial mayhem by spending time mentoring these employees. Taking the time to help cultivate their careers can help them reshape their expectations and understand their unique career trajectories, dramatically reducing employee turnover. Here's how to effectively mentor millennial employees and actually see results.
Shake Up Your Mentoring Program
Corporations with long-standing mentoring programs need a shake-up to attract and retain the younger generation. These types of programs typically take months to set up. But millennials are notorious for career-hopping and moving on quickly if a job doesn't prove to be a good fit.
Act swiftly and take the initiative if you're planning to mentor someone. Assigning mentees to shadow managers and supervisors does little if there isn't an authentic connection and reason for them to be there. Give your mentees some autonomy in who they seek out as mentors, and allow them the flexibility to step outside your mentoring program and shake things up.
Consider Long-Term Goals
Mentoring a millennial can be a somewhat fluid and flexible process, but should still have long-term goals and benchmarks. Determine what your own goals are, whether to prepare them for upward mobility or to gain insights on how to recruit and keep a new wave of hires.
Remember that millennials tend to be goal-focused after growing up in an era when kids won a trophy for showing up and trying their hardest. Leverage this passion for goal setting, and take a genuine interest in their long-term career and future. Set goals for their career trajectory and design a way to measure their progress, whether through status reports or giving them responsibility for larger projects.
Master Face-to-Face Interaction
Millennials grew up in the age of texting, emailing, instant messaging, and getting instantaneous feedback. That doesn't mean they don't ever want face-to-face contact: What it really means is they want some type of connection. But don't just assume millennials should know what to expect and how to conduct themselves in face-to-face situations in the business world. There will still probably be pushback on issues that can't be wrapped up in an email or a quick text.
Part of mentoring a younger, technologically-advanced generation is giving them insights into your industry and the business world at large. That means teaching them how to sit in a meeting with investors, attend networking events, or close sales.
Explore Value Over Compensation
It's refreshing to see a generation that isn't that motivated by compensation in comparison to value. Part of their indifference to compensation comes from watching their parents' generation dedicate themselves to a company only to get let go without a severance. Why should they put so much emphasis on compensation if they know it's not a guarantee for security or success?
Figure out what your millennial employees actually care about. Millennials have also been told their entire lives that they can be whatever they want and should follow their passions. Give your millennials a framework to show them how their jobs offer value to society to keep them committed. They want a bigger purpose, so give it to them and see how far they take it.
Millennials are team players and value group interaction. Sticking them in a room to listen to their supervisor drone on about the latest in SaaS trends isn't going to do you any favors. There was an interesting in article in Bloomberg called The Misery of Mentoring Millenials that shed some light on this teamwork mentality. Millennials prefer having a group of mentors to turn to, depending on who holds the expertise for the particular problem they're facing. Aside from being an effective way of mentoring, it can also relieve a single mentor from being responsible for the outcome of the experience.
Respect Their Need for Encouragement
Many business leaders see millennials as needy and too sensitive. There may be some truth to that, but consider the era of their childhood. They grew up with non-stop feedback and self-congratulatory posts via social media updates. Like it or not, this is their reality.
Millennials don't necessarily need special time set aside to talk about how great they are. But they do seek out feedback and want a little encouragement that they're on the right track and delivering. Spending just a few minutes a week to check in can help build trust with your millennial employees and make them feel valued.
There are probably business owners who will shrug off that idea, but they are actually missing out. Giving millennials that boost of encouragement can increase their productivity and commitment to your company.
Go the Reverse Mentoring Route
The rising trend in corporate mentoring is going the reverse mentoring route. It's a smart move and we should have been building on this concept years ago. No one is suggesting that millennials don't need older mentors who are established in their fields and can share insights from their decades of experience. But those older mentors also need input and feedback from millennials on social media, finding the right influencers to promote content, and the latest technology trends. Such mentorships should be mutually beneficial, engaging and give-and-take in terms of time commitment.
What about you? How are you effectively mentoring your millennial employees? Let me know by leaving a comment below.