Lee Iacocca once said, “I hire people brighter than me, and then I get out of their way.” Giving employees freedom, autonomy, and choice at work can be a great motivator, but it doesn't, however, take away from the key roles leaders must master to have success. They still need to take a more hands-on role to make sure the different groups or teams work well together, with each other, and remain focused on the right priorities.
As reported by a Catalyst study, Millennials will comprise three-quarters of the global workforce by 2025. This means that the now 'Millennial way of work' will soon become 'the way of work.' Therefore, it's key to know how to work well with their expectations and requirements. We have broken down the top four ways to keep your Millennials employees engaged:
1. Encourage Clear Individual And Company Goals
To keep your Millennial employees engaged, it is critical to help them highlight their priorities. This doesn't, however, mean compiling a list of 20 different things that they need to do. This can be overwhelming and ineffective. Phil Collins, author of “From Good To Great” discusses priorities. If each person has more than three priorities, they have too many and are lacking a clear idea of what they need to do.
It's also incredibly important for employees to know the broader scope and be a part of it — where the company is headed in the future and what the different teams are doing to get there. What does each person have to do to contribute towards the greater goals? How do they account for their success/failures?
2. Restrict The Restriction
None of us like being restricted... especially Millennials, who have grown up in an age of extensive choice (think music, entertainment, style, diet, etc.). Restriction can take form in multiple ways... the actual physicalities of a desk and chair, the timing of expected arrival and departure, the length of your lunch break... Being too restrictive with your employees, specifically Millennials, may cause them to disengage due to dissatisfaction. Rules, of course, still must be enforced, but if there are things you can loosen your grip on, go ahead and do so. For instance, if your employees enjoy working in breakout areas within a coworking space rather than a private office, let them continue that flow rather than forcing them in one direction. Most likely they'll be getting better work done if they feel they have a choice when dealing with where and how they work.
If less restriction is placed on your employees on a day-to-day basis, they most likely will understand when a specific restriction is necessary. Millennials, much to your frustration, may roll into work at a quarter past ten on most days, but they will understand and be ready when they need to work into the late hours of the night on a special proposal or project.
Thanks to the increased use of technology in our daily lives, there is less of a barrier between when is work time and when is home time. (We're all very familiar with late night work Slacks.) This can be a good thing, however, as the techy Millennials are usually much happier to jump on a call at 8:00 PM compared to Gen X's, who are more comfortable with work being done for the day at 6:00.
3. A Feedback Frenzy
Millennials have grown up in the Digital Age. They're used to constant pings and posts. This directly implicates how they perform at work. Millennials need constant feedback and communication. They communicate publicly, with openness; this sets the expectation for their feedback at work. It's important for them to engage in an ongoing conversation. Trust me, they do not have the patience to wait for annual or even monthly reviews. They want to know how they're doing, and they want to know now.
A Fortune article discussing feedback and Millennials states, “Often decried as the “everybody gets a trophy” generation, millennials’ need for feedback and recognition can, in fact, have a positive impact on companies. It ensures that complacency doesn’t set in and has forced some companies to become more merit-based than their hierarchical corporate predecessors.”
So, what can you do to work best with your Millennials employees? Start by curating an atmosphere of openness and communication. Give frequent, timely feedback to your employees, and compromise on a feedback rate that works for the both of you. This may mean providing your employees with feedback twice a month rather than only once, for example.
4. Company Culture Is A Must
All families have values, even if they aren’t frequently discussed. There are certain behaviors that are encouraged and discouraged — like rules of the road. These core values are created to ensure that everyone gets along and spends their time positively and productively. Companies are no different.
An important way to keep everyone, engaged is to always stick to your core values. Show respect. Be kind. The usual necessities. Otherwise, people may disconnect if they feel they are not being treated well. It may sound cheesy, but no matter what the situation may be, it can be worked through in a kind and calm manner. All employees/managers will encounter situations that will make them want to lash out — it's especially important in those moments to remember to stick to what you're made of.
It's also critical for teams to come together for different events and activities. Many flexible workspaces, for instance, hold regular events with topics ranging from fashion to machine learning to blockchain technology. Although it does require an extra effort, push yourself and encourage your team to attend these out-of-office gatherings. The bonding will be worth it. A team who cares for each other works much better together!
On average, you spend about one-third of your life at work. This means the average person spends more time with their employees/colleagues than their own spouse or children. With people devoting this much time to work, it is essential that employees are kept engaged. (1) Don't forget to clearly communicate personal and company goals. (2) Wherever you can lay off, go ahead and do so. (3) Provide stable, consistent feedback to your Millennials. (4) Lastly, always remember the founding principles your business is built on. These timeless tips will keep your employees engaged every day, at every stage of your company's growth.
Article written by: Ginny Eckblad, Co-founder GorillaSpace