Millennials suffer from an undeserved bad rap. I see a lot of workers from "older generations" look down on them. They're often deemed to be disloyal, entitled, or just plain lazy, but the way I see it, they're simply misunderstood.
This is nothing new.
Every generation has differed from the one that came before.
It's those differences that cause conflict - not because either side is any "better" than the other, but because neither side entirely "gets" the way the other thinks.
Millennials can make excellent employees, if you take the time to understand how their minds work, and if you're open enough to adapt your company culture to accommodate their needs.
Here are 10 tips that will help you get the most out of your startup's Millennial workers.
1. Relax Your Policies
Many Millennials are baffled by other generations' obsession with strict dress codes and rigid working hours.
They've grown up in a world in which they can connect with pretty much anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Why should they have to be in the office every day when they can be just as productive, if not more productive, working from home?
Why should they start work at 9 a.m. when their body clock dictates they perform best earlier or later in the morning?
Why is it necessary to stay in the office until 5 p.m. when they completed everything they needed to by 3 p.m.?
Assess which policies are fundamental to the company and which ones can be relaxed, or removed altogether. If bureaucracy is hindering an employee's performance for no good reason other than "That's just how things are done," change it. It's you and your business that will be hurt the most if you refuse to change with the times.
2. Explain Why Their Work Matters
Many Millennials aren't content to complete tasks "just because." They want to understand why the work they're being asked to do matters, and how it contributes to the business as a whole.
In short: they want to do something meaningful.
Now, I'm not trying to say you should coddle your Millennial workers - there's a limit to what they can expect to be told. What I am saying is that you should make a point of highlighting the purpose of a task when you set it, and implement processes to ensure your workers understand when something they've done has had a positive impact on the company.
3. Avoid Micromanaging Them
While it's important to show your Millennial workers why what they do matters, taking this to the extreme and micromanaging them will only succeed in stifling their performance.
Give Millennials the freedom to run with their ideas, and you'll be thanked with a happier, more relaxed, and more creative workforce.
4. Let Their Voices Be Heard
The World Wide Web has made it easier than ever for our voices to be heard. Want to be on TV? Make a YouTube video. Feel like writing a book? Self-publish it as an ebook.
Millennials are used to living in a world with few barriers to self-expression. This is an expectation that many of them will carry over into the workplace.
That isn't a bad thing.
Implement processes that engage your entire team in everyday and key decisions. It will make them feel valued, which in turn will boost morale and increase their dedication to your company and cause.
5. Embrace Modern Technology
Many Millennials expect technology to assist their every move - in and out of the workplace. Why waste time completing tasks "the long way" if there's a faster, more efficient way to do it?
Upgrading technology can be expensive, but if it saves you (and your team) time, while also boosting morale, it's well worth the investment.
6. Provide an Adaptable Workspace
Until recently, "open plan" was being sold to us as the way to office utopia. In reality, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the perfect workspace. Millennials - and all your staff, in fact - will work best when your workspace adapts to their changing needs by facilitating collaboration, concentration, relaxation, and education.
7. Offer "Better" Benefits
A competitive salary, Christmas bonus, and generous pension scheme might be enough to win your loyalty, but many Millennials feel differently.
Sure, I doubt they're going to turn down a pay raise, but in general, they're more concerned with working somewhere they enjoy going every day.
A friendly environment, comfortable office space, and perks like the option to bring pets to work or take a sabbatical are more important to many Millennials than 10% extra in their December paycheck.
8. Let Them Share in the Company's Vision
A shift in how we perceive a happy work/life balance is one of the reasons Millennials crave less tangible benefits, like the ones mentioned above. Many Millennials are happy for their work and personal lives to cross paths, so long as they genuinely enjoy their time at work, and especially if they feel like a part of what the company is trying to achieve.
Ensure that your staff - Millennials in particular - understand what this is and how their role fits in. It will make them feel important, valued, and part of something bigger. This in turn will increase their motivation and desire to give the role their all.
9. Encourage Them to Grow
Ambition isn't new to the 21st century, but unlimited access to information at our fingertips is. The internet is a platform that facilitates learning what we want, when we want. This drives a desire for constant self-improvement, long after institutional education ends.
Don't hold your staff back. Encourage personal and professional growth, or better yet, allocate time out of their workday for personal projects that will help them in their professional life.
10. Create Clear Career Paths
Far from being "lazy," "entitled," or "unmotivated," Millennials are in fact an incredibly ambitious bunch. If they can't see a role progressing, they may well start looking to leave - a theory backed up by the fact that the average time Millennials spend with one company is just 2.6 years.
Ensure that your employees can see where their career with you is heading, and chances are, they will stick around for longer and work harder.
Remember that while certain traits can be attributed to Millennials as a whole, each of them is still an individual. Make time to listen to each employee's hopes and goals. Understand what it is that motivates them, and use this information to tailor how you help them reach their full potential.
Do you have any other tips for getting the most out of Millennial workers? Let me know in the comments below: