By Edmund Lee, Kepner-Tregoe

As the song goes – “the times they are a-changing” – a foreign power, the Millennial worker, has invaded our workplaces and many businesses are struggling to understand just how to integrate these strangers, with their alien habits and unusual ideas, into their cultures.

The Millennial mindset is undoubtedly different than GenXer’s or Baby Boomer’s. Millennials are the first generation of digital natives and they have very different ideas about the function of the workplace.

The needs of Millennial workers deserve as much attention as all other employees; however, you must understand their unique perspective if you want to benefit the most from their attitudes and contribution and to make them feel they are valued members of your team.

  1. Relax and let them do the same
    Millennials, more often than not, will expect to seek stress relief outside the work environment. You would be wise to provide this flexibility in your work culture and not just assume their absence is a detriment to your organization’s productivity. Allow an easy connection between work and play, because what may look initially to be work avoidance or procrastination may well be a high-value activity that allows them to refresh energy levels and develop the mindset they need to attack their work with new energy and creativity.
  1. Do not underestimate the importance of communications
    Engage Millennials by using clear and concise micro-messages to keep them informed about the company’s direction and the progress towards its goals. Remove the ambiguity and focus on the point, because Millennials do not respond well to being fed a line of baloney.

    If news is bad, then don’t try to sugar-coat it; communications received as less than truthful will not be received well. Remember, when you tell Millennials your door is always open if they have any questions, then they are likely to interpret that literally, so don’t say it if you don’t mean it. Be prepared to engage honestly and openly.

    Another Millennial communications tip is they will prefer to communicate via electronic means – chat apps, such as Slack, are the ideal platform. Leaving your office to visit someone at his or her desk, even if he or she is sitting just outside your office, is so last decade!
  1. Your technology must work!
    This is a generation of digital natives. When they come to work, they expect the technology you provide them to be as easy to use, reliable and intuitive as the apps they use at home. After all, is that such a strange expectation?

    Nothing will turn your average Millennial off faster than clunky, hard-to-use technology. You can treat this as an opportunity, however, by asking for their advice – what would make your systems easier to navigate? How can you improve the experience for staff and customers?

    By engaging this new generation of your workforce, you may well discover how to create a new system, process, service, etc. as a competitive advantage for your business.
  1. Don’t expect your Millennial workers to betray their beliefs
    Your typical Millennial will compromise but is very unlikely to do anything he or she regards as betraying his or her beliefs. Millennials may well be prepared to accept a role different than what they wanted in a company in which they believe rather than their dream job in a business that may force them to work against their values.

    Having workers who are passionate about your business goals, purpose and mission is extremely valuable for your business. If they don’t fit their roles well, but do fit your business, then focus on giving them an opportunity to excel. People with passion can be hard to find.
  1. Here for a good time, not a long time…
    Employer loyalty is very different than 10, 20 or 30 years ago. The typical Millennial worker is a staunch believer in a flexible career. They will stay with a job just as long as it takes to feel they have accomplished a career goal, learned new skills, etc. or they are offered a bigger and better opportunity.

    You must expect this to happen, but don’t be aggrieved when they think it is time to move their careers forward. You are not at fault; it is just how the Millennial mindset works. It would not occur to them that they are being disloyal. Their highest loyalty is to themselves and to their careers.

    Simply make the most of them for the time they are with you and understand they will, in all likelihood, be seeking and choosing other opportunities, eventually.

Obviously, these are generalizations, but they are a starting point to understanding the Millennial mindset. Remember, your employees are individuals, regardless of when they were born. While different generations have common traits, it is most important to understand their individual needs and do what you can to help them be the most productive, happy and valuable members of your business possible. Learn more about Kepner-Tregoe solutions by navigating our website using the menu above.