Maximizing Your Millennials

The Millennial Generation, those born between 1980 and 2000, are entering the workforce in greater numbers. Their strengths and weaknesses have been discussed by Time Magazine and the Pew Research Center: they are tech-savvy multi-taskers with deep internship skills, but they are criticized for having a lack of effort, inability to focus, and unrealistic expectations of being promoted. Let us shift the conversation past these generalizations: how can you get the most out of the Millennials in your workplace? The key is to create a satisfying work environment, which starts by recognizing their identities and motivations.

In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell searched out the characteristics and environments of extremely successful individuals. Regarding job satisfaction, he found that “autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward – are, most people will agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying.” If your company is hiring Millennials, we can infer from Gladwell’s research that gratifying work will be more likely to retain top young talent than slides in the office.  So just how can you tailor these three classic components of gratifying work to the new generation?

Autonomy: Let Them be Internal Entrepreneurs

            While Google’s perks might bring fresh young talent through the door, it is job features such as the 20 percent factor that retains them. Google encourages workers to use 20% of their time however they like, which many motivated programmers use to write code for projects outside of their normal duties. Consider setting aside time at your office for creativity and free thinking. Maybe you can do so on Friday afternoons, at a time when productivity otherwise dwindles. This can bring fresh ideas to a company, and even encourage a free-flowing exchange of information that will help built options and alternatives while working on other projects in the office. The employee satisfaction and increased creativity may well pay for any time “lost”. The ideas spawned by internal entrepreneurs could add value to your business.

Complexity: Give Multi-platform Assignments

            If you have a mew PR project, give a tech-savvy Millennial the chance to work across web and social media platforms to maximize results. Tap into their social media fluency  and existing knowledge of technology to link RSS blog feeds through your Linkedin page. Encourage them to experiment with newer web features, like Vine, to spread video messages in different ways. Your company will be able to diversify its message, your young employees will harness their knowledge on a new challenge, and you will help your chances of reaching younger demographics.

Connection Between Effort and Reward

By digging into their underlying interests, you may find ways to reward a Millennial for their effort without bumping up their salary. For budding careers, the non-monetary value of increased responsibility may be more valuable than pay. For sales jobs, consider giving title promotions to recognize achievement. Instead of bumping up base pay or commission, reward with a larger sales region or warmer leads. Even if the promotion seemed too early, aspirational Millennials may quickly step up to the higher position and increased responsibility, paying dividends without being paid more.


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