In 2015, Millennials became the largest share of the American work force, according to the Pew Research Center. In fact, Millennials will make up 75 percent or more of the global work force in little more than 10 years.
Why should you care? Well, if your workplace is crawling with Millennials, you want to consider how culture and the way you engage them will affect your business, satisfy your customers, and keep stakeholders happy.
If you really want a competitive edge, there are some dumb moves that, as managers, you just...don't...do.
1. You ignore them and treat them like they're invisible.
That's one way to discourage your talented Millennials. If you're hoping to keep them engaged, get ready to start talking about their work -- a lot. And not the kind of conversation that happens only once a year in those dinosaur-era performance evaluations.
In one report published by PeopleFluent last year, half of all Millennials surveyed are saying that they do value performance reviews, but at least monthly, if not more frequently. Only 9.8 percent prefer the annual version.
The focus for managers worried about carving out time to do this should be on making your feedback shorter, more frequent, and constructive. This is what Millennials want.
2. You don't mentor or coach them.
The same PeopleFluent report found that up to 78 percent of Millennials want mentors to help them feel more engaged with their organization.
This means not only structured mentorship programs but also informal instruction from more experienced peers and colleagues while learning on the job.
3. You don't recognize them.
Did you know that receiving recognition is the most important performance motivator?
Sure, a paycheck or a bonus is good, but that money will be spent tomorrow. But being recognized in front of the organization for the hard work that you put in? That's gold, because everyone can then see the value that you're bringing.
One study conducted by Blackhawk Engagement Solutions revealed that only 40 percent of Millennials are happy with the rewards and recognition their company offers.
The results of that study are telling. It is at the very bottom in terms of how Millennial employees perceive their employers' efforts to make them happy. Millennials have a particular sensitivity to recognition.
4. You don't provide leadership advancement.
Contrary to the false impression that Millennials are lazy and unmotivated, research has proved that they are very much interested in leadership positions and rapid career advancement.
In one massive joint study conducted by Universum, INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute, and the HEAD Foundation, nearly 70 percent of Millennials across the globe say achieving a managerial or leadership role in their careers is important.
Key point here: They value the opportunity to influence the organization for which they work.
5. You don't give them decision-making privileges.
If you want to keep the needle moving on those employee satisfaction scores (and I hope you're smart enough to do so), your first priority should be to build employee loyalty with your Millennials.
How? Allow them a seat at the table to make decisions and exercise influence over things that matter in the business. Think of projects, tasks, and meetings about strategy, mission, and culture in which you can involve Millennials.
It drives loyalty by regularly letting its employees (a large portion of them Millennials) decide to which charity organizations Acuity will donate its millions.
Acuity employees are so content (the company has 2 percent turnover), in fact, that they produced this ingenious and odd video to let us know that their company will still be a great place to work for even after the zombie apocalypse.
All actors are employees. All scenes were shot during business hours. Yes, this earned an award for Best Workplace Video.
6. You don't provide them with opportunities to volunteer.
Well, the study also found that Millennial employees are more likely to volunteer if they can leverage their skills or expertise; therefore, companies that get the connection to retention are offering these perks.
Millennials see the benefit of incorporating skills-based volunteering to keep their skills sharp while giving back to the community. Win-win.
This is great for your branding and recruitment strategy, and will attract Millennials like flies to spilled soda.
The generational preferences of these digital natives matter, and you should care. They will increasingly affect talent decisions and business outcomes over the years.
Companies can get the competitive edge by better engaging talented Millennials who are looking for work tribes that align with their values.