There's no shortage of opinions regarding the merits and demerits of Millennials as employees. Whether you resent their disdain for rules or appreciate their desire to make a difference in the world, managing them well--not to mention attracting and retaining them in the first place--is a much different matter than leading older workers born before the 1980s.
Now think about the generation following them, young people sometimes referred to as Generation Z or the iGeneration. Preferring to call them "Digital Natives," Jim Knight, speaker and author of "Culture That Rocks: How to Revolutionize Your Company's Culture," says when they enter the workforce companies that don't change some rules and expectations will never elicit the kind of revolutionary ideas and loyalty these people will be capable of.
Here's what he says you need to understand about managing your youngest workers.
They want to express themselves and be heard.
You want differentiation--to stand ahead of your competition in the eyes of your customers--right? The only way you'll get it is when your employees are nothing short of obsessed with customer satisfaction. To elicit that kind of dedication, however, you need to understand what makes younger employees tick, which is their sense of identity and a desire to work in an environment in which bosses take an interest in their personal lives. "People want to feel like you're a friend more than a boss," Knight says. "What happens with that is you get loyalty and people feel better, they feel empowered, they feel like they can come to you for just about anything."
They need to know they won't get in trouble for speaking their mind.
If your company is going to do anything great you need people willing to challenge the status quo. "Once somebody opens up the floodgates to allow that to happen some really cool [things will] result," he says.
They're not going to stop looking at their phones.
Many younger workers have spent the majority of their lives with a mobile device within reach nearly every waking moment. So, instead of fighting them on the issue, use it to your advantage. For example, employees could use their phones to help drive foot traffic into a store. "Why would you not create such a relationship with the employee that they would become a brand ambassador?" he says. "They could get out on Twitter, on Instagram, on Facebook [and] let people know that they're working, they should come in, you should check out what's going on in the business."
They're going to look different from yesterday's workers.
Maybe you don't think piercings and tattoos are professional, but remember that sense of identity that's so important to younger workers. In fact, Knight sees a tattoo as the mark of a risk-taker. "They're in it for the long haul. They're committed," he says. "There are some things that would be ridiculous to put handcuffs on people when you can allow them to have a certain eye color shade or colored nails or whatever when it would have no bearing on the business whatsoever."