Working with a Well-Connected Generation

Millenial GenerationMillennials. Generation Y. Call them what you like, but employees born in the mid 1980s are making up a significant chunk of today’s workforce. They’ve never known a world without mobile phones, bottled water, chat rooms and next-day delivery. And their attitude to work and the workplace is somewhat different from those held by the Baby Boomer generation. The Facebook generation has brought increasing expectations to the workplace and workplace technology – and to ensure our future success, we need to understand what motivates them and how to manage them.

Here are some tips to managing Millennials in the work place.

Have a strategy for recruitment

The most successful organisations have strategies for recruiting and retaining Generation Y employees.

Social media as a recruitment channel is now expected, as is an interactive, engaging corporate website with video testimonials, 360 degree views of the workspace, clear careers opportunities for graduates and school leavers, policies on remote working etc. But do give some thought too to dress code, career paths, flexible working opportunities, enabling a work-life balance, and your policy on bring-your-own-devices to work – all important to this group of employees.

Don’t ignore mobile technology

According to research by Cisco in 2012, smart phones now rival laptops as the device of choice for Generation Y – with 60% of young people admitting they compulsively use them for updates. Generation Y employees have grown up with technology and rely on it to do their jobs better. If you don’t already have a policy for employee’s bringing their own devices to work (BYOD), then adopt one – it’s a growing trend and here to stay.

Offer a better work-life balance

Today’s younger workers have a very different view on where the line is drawn between home and work. Mobile devices mean that they can pick up and send emails any time of the day or night, from wherever they are – and most are happy to do so, but they are also demanding a better work-life balance and more flexibility. Technology can help you to capture and record employee skills and working preferences and then use this data to set their shift patterns – a level of flexibility that can be highly motivating for younger employees.

Invest in Self Service Technology

Workplace systems are often light years behind smart phones, tablets and the latest laptops. Millennials expect their business applications to be as intuitive as their iPhones. They thrive on sourcing information themselves. Ensure therefore that the company intranet site is a valuable source of information for employees. And where possible, think about the significant number of HR admin queries that could be avoided if staff had mobile access to request holidays, review payslips, swap shifts, view organisation charts, complete employee surveys and manage their reviews.

Better Analytics means more informed feedback

Generation Y employees are hungry for feedback – they want to know how they are doing and they want to improve. Harnessing your mountain of HR data and using it to highlight development opportunities is critical. Leveraging workforce analytics to measure the result of work is key to high quality individual feedback. Millennials accept the need for performance measurement and they have an expectation that managers will use the data to address issues in the workplace

Understand what’s working and what isn’t

As well as Generation Y employees liking feedback and they like the opportunity to give feedback. If you are not already doing so, consider a regular employee survey to understand what’s working, what’s not and how to change things for mutual benefit.

Know what’s fair

Older generations might be less vocal about covering for absent colleagues, colleagues who arrive habitually late or those that seem to take more than their fair share of sick days. Generation Y employees are less tolerant and more vocal about unfair working practices. Ensure that your working practices are fair and equitable and that your absence and sickness policies are communicated. Consider rewarding good attendance or high productivity – time off is a great motivator to the Generation Y employee.

Attracting skills into your organisation

As the baby boomers retire, and more are retiring than the number of new people entering the workforce, you need to have a strategy to attract skills into the team. Millennials are very aware of the current economic woes and when searching for employment, focus on organisations with a good fiscal track record and those that are environmentally responsible. If you want to attract top talent ensure that you publicise these attributes 

Support a Group culture

Generation Y love collaborating and working in groups, a culture instilled in them throughout their school years. Unlike independent Baby Boomers who tend to want to take on a particular assignment work it through and report back to a meeting of their peers, Millennials would rather work through the assignment as a group. Find ways of using technology to support this way of working Have a company presence on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter for example and think about ways in which your business systems can interact through this media.

Harness free thinking and innovation

If  you’re doing something one way because that’s the way it has always been done, think again. Generation Y bring a new way of thinking to a business. They will ask questions at all levels that other generations would never ask. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring these questions as noise from the ‘y’ generation. You might just miss an innovation that the business can harness for greater success.

Generation Y workers are tech-savvy workers and different for sure. Changing the way you do business and the way you manage, recognise, and reward your employees is essential not only to your success in recruiting and retaining Generation Y workers, but to the future success of your organisation.

Is your organisation meeting the cross-generational needs of your employees? Let me know your thoughts.


2 thoughts on “Working with a Well-Connected Generation

  1. Great list!
    As the Boomers begin to retire it’s becoming more and more crucial to ensure the Millennials are developing the necessary leadership traits to thrive tomorrow.
    Thx for the insights!

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