The dynamic in today’s workforce has changed, and some employers aren’t quite sure how to handle the shift. Millennials are different than any generation that has come before them and sometimes get a bad rap in the professional world.
As a millennial myself (yes, 1985 makes the cut), I can confidently say that we are a largely misunderstood generation. Drive is often mistaken for entitlement, and savviness mistaken for pompousness. While there are undoubtedly some millennials that have been protected from the harsh realities of life, the vast majority do not fall into that category. We’ve grown up with technology at our fingertips, move at a quick pace and learn differently than the generations preceding us.
Millennials have taken over as the largest generation in the labor force today and are projected to make up 75% of the workforce by 2030. Based on those cold, hard statistics, millennials aren’t going away.
Understanding how millennials tick and what drives them will enable you to better harness their power within your own workforce.
Know The Numbers
Below is just a small sample of the research that has been done on millennials in recent years. This data helps provide insight into millennial priorities:
- 74% of Millennials say confidence in their leadership is a key driver of engagement (Culture Amp)
- 33% of Millennials would choose social media freedom and device flexibility over a higher salary (Cisco)
- 15% of Millennials are already in management positions. (PayScale)
- 60% of Millennials recognize their current position as a mere stepping-stone. (Time)
Millennials have high expectations of themselves, and the people that they work with. They crave feedback and want someone to address their wants and needs. While that may sound “needy”, many just want to know how they’re doing and if they’re on the right path.
From the Mouth of TopRank Marketing’s Millennials
TopRank Marketing has a diverse culture which includes millennial employees. I was able to ask a few of our own team members for their insight on what makes them tick as it relates to their professional goals, aspirations and learning style.
Content Marketing Manager
How important do you think it is to have the opportunity to grow and learn in any position?
This is one of a position’s “must-haves” for me. Stagnancy is one of my greatest fears, so being in a position where I’ll always be stretching and evolving, and that offers room for vertical advancement, couldn’t be more important. The more we grow as people and professionals, the greater our ability becomes to contribute to the world.
Digital Marketing Manager
Do you prefer to wait for someone to help you with a problem, or try and find a solution on your own?
I’m wired to be a problem solver, so I definitely prefer to figure things out on my own. Often I will research to see if others have solved similar problems, but I always have at the back of my mind “ok, but how can I do it better?”.
Director of Client Accounts
What is one of your “must-haves” when it comes to working as part of a team?
One of my must haves for working with a team is creating a balanced team. Each team member brings unique skills and experiences to the team, so it’s important to weigh each perspective. Hone on team members strengths and ask them to work on those tasks which make the most sense for their skill set and personality.
Do you think it’s more important to love what you do and make a decent wage, or dislike what you do and make a large salary?
This is easy. It’s so much more important to love what you do. We will always do better work when we enjoy and care about what we’re doing. For me at least, that’s a lot more important than driving a brand new car or having all the best new things.
[Shaya Clark is responsible for finding talented new employees to join our team. Here are our current openings: TopRank Careers]
How would you describe your learning style?
My learning style would be best described as hands-on and research driven. I enjoy reading industry blogs and following thought leaders about new concepts to test and try.
What is your favorite part about working as part of a team?
My favorite part about working on a team is being able to benefit from everyone’s unique perspective and skill set. No one can be an expert at everything, so it’s important to be able to identify and capitalize on the unique skills and perspectives that you bring to the table. A diverse workplace is a happy workplace, so don’t be afraid to differentiate your skills from those of your co-workers. Conversely, take time to understand the unique skills and qualifications of your co-workers, so that they can help you find answers to challenges that are too difficult for you to decipher on your own, or outside of your understanding.
4 Steps for Harnessing the Power of Millennials
Step 1: Provide Transparency Whenever Possible
Millennials are a very curious generation. Being aware of “what” something is, often isn’t enough. Most important to this generation is understanding “why”.
This curiosity comes from wanting to understand why a particular process exists or action is taken so that they can learn how to apply the information to future situations. Because of the pace that millennials move at, they are also very interested in creating efficiencies wherever possible.
Step 2: Help Them Develop & Elevate Their Skills
One of the largest reasons that millennials leave their current job is because they are not learning. A stagnant position that does not offer further development or growth is many millennials worst fear.
That doesn’t mean that all of the responsibility falls on you their employer to make sure that they are learning. However, making them aware of the resources available for professional development can help keep millennials engaged and invigorated to succeed within your organization.
Step 3: Encourage Their Creative Side
Creativity is no longer only used just to describe “creative types” in advertising, design, etc.. Creating an environment that fosters creative expression is absolutely critical for lasting professional satisfaction. Creative expression can take on many forms including:
- Improving a team workflow or process
- Finding innovative ways to service clients and customers
- Bringing team members together for collaborative brainstorming
Step 4: Celebrate Failure
Ok, upon first glance you may be wondering why you would ever want to encourage your employees to fail. However, failure means that an attempt was made to try something new.
Many of today’s wealthiest entrepreneurs had many failures prior to sticking their landing. Use millennials tenacious, eager attitudes to innovate within your organization. Provide them with a level of responsibility and accountability (both essential) and challenge them to come up with what they believe is a better approach.
As with any employee you will sometimes get magic right out of the gate, while sometimes it means going back to the drawing board.
What is Your Experience?
- If you’re a business owner or manager: What has been your experience (both positive and negative) working with millennial employees?
- If you’re a millennial: What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned thus far in your career?