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Everything You Need to Know About Millennials

The word “millennial” generally refers to anyone born between the early 1980s and 2000s (“Generation Y”).

Often characterised as ‘spoilt,’ ‘lazy,’ ‘entitled’ and ‘selfish,’ it’s pretty easy to see why some businesses shy away from hiring such employees.

But that’s ridiculous isn’t it? Can an entire generation really be reduced to a few, resounding characteristics?

Here’s what you actually need to know…

The millennial is better at social media…

…and not in a bad way.

Of course, social media has a huge part to play in the life of a millennial. It came into being during their era and has become a completely natural part of their lives.

Is this a negative thing?

No – if you want to keep up with the modern world, then you need people who are digitally savvy.

Millennials have grown up with social media. They understand its reach, its mechanics and (importantly) its risks.

Things that in my opinion, are pretty difficult to learn (because the “rules” are constantly changing).

Employers who refuse to embrace this technology will get left behind – it’s as simple as that.

For more information on how millennials use social media, click here.

The millennial can multitask.

For similar reasons, millennials are bloody good multi-taskers.

The phone, the laptop, the music, the television…

They’re used to a world absolutely filled with technological distractions and have therefore adapted to doing multiple (often complicated) things at once!

If you have children in this generation, you’ll know exactly what I mean (and it’s only getting worse/better).

Culture is important to the millennial.

Millennials are often very concerned with the culture of a business they are applying to.

Where their parents may have based working decisions on stability and security, generation Y definitely want more from their career than just a regular pay slip.

This may have a lot to do with the fact that they have less pressure to ‘settle down,’ it may be that millennials feel more ‘entitled’ than other generations (as the pessimists say).

All you need to know is that when you invite a millennial to interview with your company, you’ve got to sell the experience, as well as the job, to them

When they enter your office, they’ll be hoping to see vibrancy, friendliness and innovation.

Progression is important to the millennial.

Millennials are an ambitious lot.

They want to feel as though they’re moving towards something, that they’re progressing and that they’re making a real difference – which is a great thing for your business.

In fact 52% of millennials believe that ‘opportunities for career progression’ makes an employer more attractive to them.

If you offer them a genuine and appealing career path, they really will work their socks off for you!

And no, tricking someone into working for you, but not following through with your promises won’t go down well millennials are much more likely to job-hop if they’re not satisfied (see number 9).

Recognition is important to the millennial.

You might call millennials needy… which probably has a lot to do with the ‘positive feedback’ culture which was so evident during their upbringing.

(Positive reinforcement and all of that jazz…)

But it’s not just praise that millennials want to hear, they need the negative feedback too!

Why? Because they’re constantly striving to be better.

(Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that their entire generation has been called lazy?)

It probably ties into their natural desire to make a difference and to feel like they are progressing.

If you’re going to hire millennials, then regular reviews will help to inspire and motivate them.

And as far as praise goes, you really don’t need to make a grand, grand gesture, sometimes something as simple as a quick “well done” email will do the trick.

Of course recognition isn’t just important to millennials…

“Companies with a solid strategy to recognize members of their team enjoy stronger engagement, increased productivity, a devoted spirit of customer service, and lower turnover rates. Companies who have implemented employee recognition programs have identified an increase of 20% in business outcomes and 50% higher levels of productivity from their workers.”

Click here to check out the rest of this illuminating article from SnackNation: 33 Amazing Employee Recognition Ideas You Need to Be Using.

You’d really be surprised how much a little bit of recognition could do wonders for your business.

The millennial is open to change.

Some people just do not like change…

But for millennials, change (particularly technological advance) has been a constant feature of their life.

They can’t get ‘stuck in the old ways’ because everything changes so quickly, there is no ‘old way’.

Their world has been in a constant state of flux and to survive, they have had to keep up with and adapt to those changes.

The millennial works well with others.

Generation Y are very keen collaborators.

Having grown up in an educational environment transfixed on the value of nurturing relationships and team-working skills, they tend to play (and work) better with others.

Not the mention the effect of social media – people “talk” a lot more than they used to.

This also means a heightened sense of empathy and community so millennials are often great communicators, listeners and leaders.

The millennial prefers flexible working.

Don’t be surprised if millennial workers expect more flexible working hours, location and dress code.

The ‘corporate’ world of suits and 9-5 became too samey and so to stand out, many modern companies started to relax their rules, brand and culture.

Such companies have taken to offering perks such as flexitime, casual attire in the office, the opportunity to work from home, unlimited holidays etc.

These benefits can brighten the entire culture of a business, show that employers trust their employees and as a result give off a friendlier, happier impression to clients.

Obviously, you shouldn’t completely change your entire business structure, but consider small ways in which you can incorporate the flexible working that some millennials have now come to expect.

It could seriously improve your employee engagement.

The millennial is more likely to “hop” jobs.

As I’ve discussed, millennials certainly have high expectations when it comes to their career.

And unfortunately for employers, if they don’t get (at least some) of what they want, they’re more likely to move on for pastures new.

They don’t have as much to lose and their loyalty isn’t bought by salary. They need more.

So what can be done? How can you stop them from leaving.

  • Don’t lie to millennials – if you break your promises, they will leave.
  • Make sure there are opportunities to grow (via new positions and/or training).
  • Give regular feedback (good or bad).
  • Consider flexible working benefits.
  • Build a great culture for your business.

Most importantly keep an honest line of communication open with your millennial employee so that if there are any issues, they’ll come to you first.

For more on whether or not you should be hiring a job-hopper, click here.

The millennial will work hard.

Now, you can probably see why some people call millennials “lazy” and “entitled…” they do seem pretty fussy, don’t they?

But just because they are fussy, doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to work hard.

The very fact that they have such high expectations and ambitions means that they’ll work harder to get and keep what they want and, bearing in mind the other things we’ve mentioned:

  • They want to mean something to your business.
  • They want to be a part of something bigger.
  • They constantly want to improve themselves.
  • Positive recognition is important to them.

Surely you can’t get any of that, by being lazy?

In my experience, millennials work even harder than most, once they’re settled and happy in their position.

So should you hire a millennial?

To be sure, we can generalise an entire population for the sake of statistics and reports and there are good and bad trends to be found across the millennial generation.

But at the end of the day, your choice must always come down to the individual.

Most of the tips we’ve mentioned above should extend to your entire workforce anyway.

“Employee engagement” is an everyday term to millennials but is a fairly new concept to other generations; that certainly doesn’t mean it should (ever) be ignored!

There should be clear opportunities for everyone, flexible working is a great benefit that will engage all of your staff and culture is really important to the success of your business…

To find out more about keeping your workforce engaged and happy, click here.

Also, for those of you who are cynical about hiring millennials you may want to think about the fact that they will make up 46% of the working population by 2020.

Good luck.

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