Are we really just an over-entitled, over-indulged generation with a taste for technology and no work ethic? A group of self-righteous kids with impressively useless degrees? I would like to say no. Are we different than the generations that came before us? Of course. The infamous Millennial generation is in full force in the workplace. We range from 18 to mid 30’s and, despite the common misconception, we are not all snap-chatting our breakfast and taking selfies. We are capable of a great many things with the right motivation.
Don’t call us ‘kids’ : We are overly sensitive about that. So, we don’t have three children at the age of 25? It doesn’t mean that we haven’t graduated into adulthood. We have real bills, real commitments, and student loans that could rival a starter-home mortgage. Many of us have plowed through years of college and unpaid internships to graduate during a recession and start selling insurance or continue waiting tables. We are definitely dancing in the so-called “real world”.
Appreciate our technology: Instead of mocking our social media addictions and our reliance on smart phones, embrace that we were raised on innovation. Capitalize on the fact that we have been trained to work smart instead of hard. We have an app for everything, and if there is something we don’t have an app for – we invent it.We may have a simple solution to a problem you didn’t even know you had.
Recognize our wins: We were raised to be special. Tough love died in the 70s. Our parents wanted us to feel loved, safe and appreciated from the moment we exited the womb. They wanted us to to have everything they didn’t. They praised us for our successes, and supported us through our failures. This constant reassurance and encouragement has become our expectation from someone who cares. So, if you want your younger employees to think you care – show them. A proverbial pat-on-the-back can go a long way – especially when our salaries are far from motivational.
Focus on merit, not time: The idea of staying with one company for your entire career – is dying with the previous generation. Millennials are more likely to work for several employers throughout their working years. A huge pet peeve is not having our talents recognized purely because we have not “put in our time”. We don’t want something we haven’t earned, but we are not looking for an anniversary pen or watch. If you are not offering a relevant career path, we will look elsewhere. Very soon.
Although I have an obvious bias, I believe that Millennials are a brilliant generation. We are not just the future leaders, we are the current leaders as well. I believe that motivating Millennial employees is vital to the success of companies. And remember, as with any other demographic, avoid stereotypes!