Patrick Van Der Mijl, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, Speakap
Today’s 20 and 30-somethings are a somewhat perplexing breed of employees. It didn’t surprise us that 32% of the HR professionals we surveyed said millennials are the hardest group of employees to engage – considerably more so than their Gen X and baby boomer counterparts. But with 56 million millennial workers at large, employers don’t have any other choice but to recognize the value these purpose-driven, tech-savvy individuals can bring to their business. So how does one go about managing millennials?
Pre-Boarding is the New On-Boarding
It only takes seven seconds to make a first impression. According to 13% of HR professionals, HR’s biggest challenge when managing millennial employees has been making that initial onboarding process smooth and informative. That’s why companies need to start the moment an employee is hired – we call this the pre-boarding phase.
Remember, millennials want to feel like they’re part of a community and want to forge strong relationships with their colleagues, teammates and managers. Pre-boarding is a great way to do this.
The first step can be to invite these young new hires to join the company’s dedicated employee communications platform and start posting and sharing content as well as interacting with content posted by their fellow colleagues. Assign them a buddy or mentor ahead of their start date to answer questions about the company’s vision, culture, dress code, organizational structure or anything else. Finally, encourage new hires to send a company-wide ‘hello, I’ve arrived or I’m coming soon” type of message introducing themselves, their background, their role and even their personal interests.
Real-Time Is Prime Time
Millennials have long been branded as an impatient generation that’s looking for instant gratification. This pattern of impatience can also be seen in the way these digital natives communicate with their colleagues and managers – they expect communications and feedback to be constant and in real-time, and they don’t want to wait for days – even hours – for a response. This is supported by our research: 47% of the surveyed HR professionals said their millennial workers want their questions answered in real-time. So employers that fall short on delivering this will surely struggle to keep these employees engaged, satisfied and loyal for the long-term.
A similar rule is valid for feedback. Millennials demand timely, transparent communications so that they can immediately make the necessary improvements to be more efficient and effective in their roles.
A Sense of Purpose
Millennials are idealistic, even in their career choices, and they’re looking for personal fulfilment – not just another job. That’s why it’s important for employers to help them realize their full potential. It’s time for managers to get creative with their enterprise social networks – use them to share learning and development content, celebrate team/individual achievements, motivate and incentivize improved performance and create a socially engaging experience. This improves their skills, performance and productivity, thereby increasing their sense of accomplishment and satisfaction with the organisation itself. In turn, that will increase the likelihood that millennials – a generation synonymous for being job-hoppers – will be more loyal and stick around for longer.
Millennials live for social networks. They love to share experiences, achievements, thoughts and feelings across social media and communications apps. It’s no surprise then that 46% of HR professionals stated that their millennial workers want an employee communications platform with a similar functionality and experience to consumer social media networks.
To tap into millennials’ social nature, employers can launch monthly contests to encourage them to share interesting facts, photos, videos and news – just like they do in their personal lives. This will increase engagement and, if their direct managers/supervisors show their involvement and approval by liking, commenting and interacting with the posted content, this will also make employees feel like they’re part of their company’s community and will help them make inroads in forging stronger bonds with their colleagues, teammates, direct managers/managers and senior management.
The Right Balance
Work-life balance is a major priority for millennials. They don’t measure success based on climbing the corporate ladder or owning property: success means having control over how engaged they are with their workplace and having the opportunity to enjoy the life experiences that truly matter.
The Do Not Disturb movement has already gained pace in different countries and organisations worldwide. For example, German automotive company Daimler automatically deletes emails received by employees on holiday. Meanwhile, in France, workers have won the right to ignore business emails that arrive after hours with the El Khomri Law. And now US legislators are contemplating introducing their own ‘right to disconnect’ law in New York. The message to employers is clear: Empower your employees to be fully present and productive while at work, but encourage them to disconnect after work to improve their happiness, reduce stress and nurture personal relationships. Good work-life balance is key to making millennial employees happy and instilling their long-term loyalty.