Tips for Effective Integration of Millennials' Skills and Workplace Performance
One of the biggest challenges for businesses today is integrating the Millennials or Gen Y twenty-somethings into a Baby Boomer culture. They are the newest generation to enter the labor market, arriving with their distinct ideas about what they expect from their jobs. They are our future leaders and our next generation of revenue-generators.
The Millennial Generation was born between 1977 and 1998. There are 75 million of them and were raised by “helicopter parents,” who spoiled them, giving them an ample supply of attention and validation. Because they were heralded with high expectations, Millennials tend to display an abundance of self-confidence and believe they are highly valuable to any organization from day one. They are extremely focused on developing themselves and thrive on learning new job skills, always setting new challenges to achieve. They are also the “can do” generation, never worrying about failure, for they see themselves as running the world and work environments.
According to the online resource Business Know How, when it comes to work life balance, Gen Y is not willing to give up their lifestyle for a career. They have traveled extensively and value having flexibility in their daily lives. They choose careers that allow them to live the life they desire, busy with after-work activities, including philanthropic involvement. Multitasking is their way of life. This generation grew up with little unstructured time as their parents carefully selected their life choices. The result of their minimal “down time” is that they are highly comfortable going from activity to activity in their adult world. When their workday ends, Millennials charge out into gyms, volunteer positions, classes and social events.
Millennials are team-oriented, banding together to socialize in groups. In school, this generation was taught lessons using a cooperative learning style. Therefore, they feel comfortable working on teams and want to make friends with the people at work. They believe that a team can accomplish more and create a better end result. They also grew up in a multi-cultural world which enables them to work well on a team with diverse co-workers. They communicate in snippets through instant messaging, texting, Facebook and e-mail. Quick and efficient communication is the way Millennials choose to interact, not necessarily face-to-face. They are typically unaware of their non-verbal cues. As a result, this generation tends to have more miscommunications between friends, co-workers and bosses. They forget that words only account for a small part of the communication. Additionally, spending time on the phone is not their number one choice.
Of all of the talents that Millennials bring to the workplace, being technologically savvy is their greatest skill contribution. They are constantly connected as they listen to their iPods or send text messages, all while working on a critical project. Social media is at the heart of their world. This allows them to connect with co-workers and friends around the world at great speed. The electronic capabilities of Gen Y are extraordinary. Take it from someone who knows little about technology/how electronics work. I am constantly impressed by their depth of knowledge and quest to know more.
Universum, the global employer branding and research company, annually surveys college undergraduate and MBA students. In 2014, it surveyed about 60,000 U.S. college students from 311 institutions to find out what they are looking for as they enter the world of work, as well as their views on the attractiveness of specific employers. The results of the survey reflect a desire to join an organization that respects its people, provides a supportive environment, recognizes performance, provides development and leadership opportunities, challenges one intellectually, fosters a work/life balance, and serves the public good.
Students were asked to identify up to three career goals. The top five goals (with percentages of students who selected them) were:
- Work/life balance (79 percent)
- Job security (50 percent)
- Be a leader or manager of people (43 percent)
- Be competitively or intellectually challenged (43 percent)
- Dedicated to a cause or feel I am serving a greater good (36 percent)
It also asked students to identify the most important “attractors” an employer could offer. The responses provided by at least 40 percent of students were:
- Leaders who will support my development — 49 percent
- Respect for its people — 46 percent
- Creative and dynamic work environment — 43 percent
- Recognizing performance (meritocracy) — 43 percent
- Friendly work environment — 42 percent
These results are interesting in that Millennials clearly recognize motivating factors other than money in selecting a career. Their values appear in many ways to be consistent with basic core ethical values including respect, responsibility, fairness, and civic virtue. Moreover, they were concerned about a prospective employer's reputation and image and 39 percent found ethical standards to be an attractive attribute in a prospective employer, second only to financial strength (40 percent). Other civic virtue issues of importance include corporate social responsibility (21 percent) and environmental sustainability (13 percent).
The key for businesses to attract Millennials is to foster innovation, creativity, help them to develop leadership skills and support their contributions to the workplace. Millennials offer much as prospective employees but “old school” tactics such as authoritative leadership must give way to participative leadership and a Contingency Leadership Model that recognizes there is no one best style of leadership. It should be based on the situation, a notion called “situational favorableness.” I explored this concept in my last blog on ethicssage.com.
Blog posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on July 2, 2015. Professor Mintz is on the faculty of the Orfalea College of Business at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He also blogs at: www.ethicssage.com.