Bashing Millennials has become quite a sport in recent years. But as a father to two of them, and employer of nearly 500 people--many of whom younger than 35--Christopher Cabrera says it's not fair to make nasty generalizations about the age group. In fact, the founder and CEO of Silicon Valley-based Xactly, a SaaS company which offers tools for sales performance management and employee engagement, says his company has flourished by embracing the characteristics that make Millennials unique. Here's his advice on how you can do the same.
1. Give them the recognition they crave.
Yes, it's true these younger workers grew up receiving awards, trophies and certificates for every little thing. Now that they're grown, there's no getting around the fact that Millennials expect to be recognized for their achievements. Instead of bucking this reality, Xactly changed the structure of its sales organization to allow employees to get promoted or make more money every six months, depending on their performance. "That worked out tremendously," he says.
2. Don't worry about them checking their phones.
Millennials have had devices in their hands since they were little kids, and there's an upside to this reality. They're really good with technology, are bosses at social media and capable of paying attention to multiple things at once. Exploit this fact and cut them loose to become brand ambassadors, assuming they like and respect your company enough to say good things on whatever platforms they frequent.
3. Let them work from home.
The fact that Millennials constantly have a phone in hand means they're on-call after hours and on weekends to respond to calls, emails and texts. Reward them for this dedication by being a flexible employer which recognizes people for achieving goals, not clocking time. "If companies aren't embracing the new ways of working including working from home and having flexible time then Millennials are going to be miserable and won't stick around," he says. "You will miss out on these very bright young people."
4. Give them the opportunity to do good.
Millennials want to do work that matters and make a difference in the world. Tap into this desire by providing opportunities to volunteer on the company's dime. Xactly's foundation does this by encouraging employees to work on Habitat for Humanity projects or participate in races which raise money for good causes. "They're very moldable and I think with the right role models these people can be great leaders who embrace more than just working like a slave to your company," he says.
5. Give them credit for being different in good ways.
Cabrera says it can't be denied that Millennials are collaborative and creative, due in large part to growing up with social media. Instead of bashing the age group, he'd like to see more people celebrating their strengths. "I'm so tired of hearing 'When I was in little league only the first place team got an award,'" he says. "That's missing the point of what these folks are all about."