Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and recruiting industry who leads Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and content development.
As a small-business owner with a staff of Millennials, J.T. O'Donnell's article "3 Reasons Millennials Are Getting Fired" resonated with me.
In her widely circulated piece, O' Donnell writes that Millennials have a misperception of their relationship with employers, in that it's the employer's job to provide training and professional development. O'Donnell, the founder and CEO of CareerHMO, a career support channel, also examines the belief that Millennials tend to push for workplace perks and have bad attitudes toward work if not incentivized in some way.
Thankfully, O'Donnell's interpretation of this generation only brought flashbacks to what my young staff used to be like, and I realized that I had successfully trained the Millennial out of them. Here's how I did it.
Just plant one seed.
"Growing up, Millennials were coached their entire lives, and they unknowingly assume employers will coach them too. However, the relationship isn't the same."
Yes, it is the Millennial's job to take the initiative for professional development, but if you're standing back waiting for Millennials to take matters into their own hands, you may miss out on a unique opportunity.
Seventy-nine percent of Millennials would consider quitting their regular job to start their own business, according to one study. If that doesn't scream they'll take the initiative to develop themselves, then I don't know what will.
The problem is not that Millennials are expecting employers to provide extensive training, it's that they may not know where to start themselves. At Red Branch Media, we ask: "Do you have the training, tools, and resources you need to complete your job?" It's not a trick question, and you'll likely receive a response along the lines of "yes," but an amazing thing will happen. If they're a strong enough employee, they'll water this seed and let it grow.
This allows you to weed out low-potential Millennial employees so you can focus on who is serious about growing professionally or with your business. We've added this question to every performance review, and the answers vary from the mundane (such as a writer's request for coffee stirrers) to the necessary (requests for extra monitors, tablets, or a subscription to something like Lynda.com or Treehouse).
All of these tools help our people to do their work more efficiently and remove roadblocks to creativity.
Who wants happy employees with fulfilled lives?
"Millennials tend to work only the minimum time expected--and will push for flexibility and a reduced work schedule to create more time for other pursuits."
"Employees who hate their lives are really great for your business," said no one ever.
Millennials watched their parents come home from their 9-to-5 jobs, stuffed into cubicles and under fluorescent lights for years, and guess what? They saw they were miserable. With so much job dissatisfaction and disengagement, why would we ever think to change the way we work?
Seventy-seven percent of Millennials believe a more flexible schedule enables them to be more productive, according to information from Bentley University. Employers can keep the 9-to-5 parameters in place and offer other opportunities that mimic workplace flexibility.
Break up work schedules by allowing employees to choose their own lunch hours, set aside time for breakaway sessions where employees can go on walks, get fresh air and collaborate with each other away from their desks. Create spaces in the office where employees can escape to change their work environment so they don't feel chained to their desks.
We've built walks, work-from-home days, and flexibility into our employee handbook and onboarding. This lets employees know that ultimately, they are in charge of their schedule and how they work, while still keeping some deliverable parameters around their work. It's been a great recruiting and retention tool. If you want Millennials who work 9-to-5, then you have to meet them in the middle.
Stop enabling misguided motivations.
"The reality is that Millennials (like all workers) must learn to find intrinsic motivation (internal drive for work), so they can find real satisfaction and success in their careers."
This is something you have little to no control over. If your Millennial employees don't have the internal drive to do well for your company, they shouldn't be there in the first place. Not playing into their demands of insane workplace fads and perks will weed out the ones who aren't passionate about their work at your company. It's as simple as that.
If you still have problems with this issue, dig deeper into why nobody is passionate about their work at your company. Are they not seeing the big picture or are they in a role that doesn't align with their strengths? We're a B2B company, so sometimes we have to market products that many might find boring. We keep it interesting by experimenting with different formats and aligning individual goals with the marketing health of the client.
This helps my employees realize how they impact businesses globally. Evoke passion by including employees on the inner workings and big picture goals of the organization. Steve Jobs did an excellent job in rallying Apple together for one common goal. Find out what's missing in your organization to make Millennials feel as if there is nothing to be excited about.