Millennials, Motivation, Managers

I was asked to write this blog post about maximizing the potential of millennials in the work place for AMPT, a company that specializes in employee engagement. The topic is important enough that I wanted to share it with The Bon Blog readers.  Whether you are a millennial or a company CEO (or both), understanding each other and how we can work together is critical to developing a strong team. – The Bon

Millennials in the Work Place

Are you having trouble connecting with your millennials? Do you find yourself frustrated and confused when you evaluate their work ethic? You aren’t alone. CEO’s have been questioning millennials’ work ethic for years. The big question is, how do you find common ground?

Millennials seem to be under the impression that they can start at the top. They’re above entry level jobs. Climbing the corporate ladder is the only thing on their mind. Unfortunately for employers, millennials expect the position to be handed down to them. They believe they are deserving of the job, regardless of the quantity and quality of work put in at the office.

Studies show that when millennials are compared to previous generations (Boomers and Gen Xer’s) they are lazier in the work environment; they simply don’t want to work as hard. They’re less likely to work overtime and put in the extra hours, even though they’re seeking a generous paycheck. Some view millennials as privileged, which might explain their views on money.

Millennials grew up entitled. This is the generation that received praise for everything they did, even if they weren’t worthy of the recognition. Millennials rarely got the opportunity to fail; their elders have coddled them and protected them from failure. Parents acted more like friends, teachers stopped pushing students, and none of their actions came with consequences. It’s no wonder previous generations have trouble working with millennials.

Where’s the common ground?

As a CEO, you aren’t going to be able to change who your employees are, nor will you be able to completely shape their perspective on what’s appropriate in terms of work ethic. However, there are ways to try and find that desired happy medium.

  1. Stop treating millennials like your Gen Xer’s. They will never be like the previous generation. Instead of trying to change them, alter your perspective. As their leader, you need to find a way to guide your employees to success. Teach your employees the company’s core values. Take advantage of millennial’s technology skills. Be open to change. Most importantly, give them the chance to prove everyone wrong. They aren’t all lazy and disengaged.
  1. Recognition: Without recognition, millennials will become disengaged at work. They want to feel respected and valued by their leaders. There’s nothing more discouraging than walking down the hallway, seeing your CEO or manager, and realizing they don’t know you exist. How are employees supposed to feel inspired to go above and beyond at work when their boss hasn’t a clue who they are? Millennials are already under the impression that bouncing between jobs is the fastest way to reach the top of the corporate ladder. They won’t be afraid to quit and find a job where they’ll be recognized.
  1. Positivity: Always lead with something positive. Gen Xer’s have the perceived notion that millennials are overly sensitive. Although this isn’t necessarily true, it isn’t necessarily false. No one likes it when you point out their flaws, but millennials seem to take it to heart more than other generations. They want to know when they do something wrong, but they aren’t used to dealing with the consequences. Punishment wasn’t part of most of their lives. As a leader, your best approach is providing both corrective feedback and positive feedback. Build them up. The goal isn’t to tear them down necessarily, but to help them improve or push them to succeed.
  1. Opportunity: Millennials grew up in a world that is constantly changing. Allowing your millennials to test their boundaries and venture out of their comfort zone is what they’re looking for. Challenge them. Millennials are tired of having their hand held and being viewed as incompetent. The chance to create something all on their own will give them a sense of importance to the company. Even if they fail in the process, the learning experience should be gratifying enough. Hand them a task of their own, this is the entrepreneurial generation. Encourage innovation, don’t suppress it.
  1. Growth: Millennials want to climb the corporate ladder. They aren’t looking to sit at an entry level job and patiently wait 10 years in hopes of someday reaching the top. If they notice the company isn’t promoting from within, they’ll find a company that will. Millennials want to progress at a faster rate than Gen Xer’s. Try creating new job descriptions that sound better than the typical entry level job. For instance, market researcher or social media strategist. Give your millennials a title they will be proud to call their own.
  1. Flexibility: A healthy life and work balance is key. Millennials are straying away from the typical 9-5 job. With all the advancements in technology, they’re able to work from anywhere. Working out of coffee shops or from home is becoming the norm. Millennials, especially the younger ones, view this as desirable. If applicable to your company, I recommend giving this a try. Millennials want freedom. If they don’t have to be, they don’t want to feel trapped inside an office all day. This generation also wants to be able to shut off work the second they’re off the clock. Once they’re home they are focused on their life outside of work, respect that. Being able to balance the two is very important for millennials. Understand the difference between the two and how to grant them their freedom.

It’s Achievable

Engaging your millennials and finding a balance between the differences in work ethic is achievable. All CEOs need a better understanding of the best ways to #motivate and #inspire their employees.

If you read that last sentence as “pound” motivate and “pound” inspire, then you might need some help connecting with your younger employees. Check out AMPT’s platform for further assistance.

#BonItOut – The Bon

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