We hear a lot about the supposed negative traits of the Millennial workforce: We’re inexperienced college grads who refuse to work normal hours; we overshare in the workplace; we expect high pay, awesome perks, and fulfilling jobs without the effort.
Maybe it’s because I’m a Millennial or because I have the additional perspective of having worked in corporate America with plenty of other Millennials, but I believe it’s time to turn these stereotypes on their head. But instead of rebelling against these supposed negative traits, maybe employers should cater to them.
Here are six ways you can transform Millennials’s “negative” generational traits into real wins.
Many employers find it irritating when a wet-behind-the-ears employee asks for work-from-home privileges, but this is a Millennial reality. It’s nerve-racking to give up control and transparency, but trust translates to retention and loyalty. If you don’t trust someone, they will usually give you a reason not to trust them.
The stereotype is that Millennials think they should be the boss. That doesn’t mean Millennials are impossible to work with, just that they thrive when they aren’t micromanaged. Workers succeed when bosses provide a structure of guidance and goals. It doesn’t matter how someone spends each hour, as long as the project gets done well and on time. Review strategy and offer suggestions if someone fails to meet expectations, but also understand that some people learn best when they can figure things out for themselves.
I know one software developer at a startup who wanted to consult on branding and product but was rebuffed. I get it–he was hired to code. But there’s value in an employee who wants to learn. Millennials don’t want to be pigeonholed, so try to strike a balance between letting them explore other areas and not leaving their posts unmanned.
Millennials don’t want to feel like cogs, and letting them try new things can mean a more engaged team that works even harder than generations past.
As CEO, I don’t have to listen to an entry-level employee when making a decision. But opening up company-wide decisions helps our employees feel as though they have a voice (which they do), and that translates to loyalty, retention, and a sense of purpose–not to mention new perspectives we may not have considered.
Millennials are inherently social–we grew up with things like chat rooms and instant messaging, Myspace, and Facebook. So eating lunch together regularly makes sense, and it encourages interaction between different teams.
Eighty-five percent of Millennials want to work for a socially responsible company, and 95% say a company’s reputation matters. Try to focus more on the “why” of your initiatives, which will help recruit top talent and retain the excellent staff you already have.
One of my employees suggested we do more philanthropy, so now we volunteer as a company at Baby Buggy and run a charitable 5K. In addition to luring Millennials with the promise of social commitment, we help the greater community. And the added teamwork plays out in the office.
—Neal Taparia is the cofounder and co-CEO of Imagine Easy Solutions. Their flagship product, EasyBib.com, is a citation and research tool that is used by over 40 million people. Their newest product, GetCourse, makes it super simple to add user tracking and questions to presentations for training and marketing.
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program.