The rise of the millennial generation has created quite a divide in public opinion. While some anoint these young workers saviors, others claim they are unprepared liabilities. Regardless of your own opinion, there’s no avoiding the fact that millennials will soon be the largest age demographic living in the United States.
And these nearly 76 million workers bring with them a whole new set of wants and quirks to the professional table.
As a leader, you need to realize that many traditional leadership tactics simply do not appeal to this segment. Rather than stubbornly fight these differences, you should instead embrace and adjust to them.
I’m a millennial myself, who also happens to lead a company. So I'm in a good position to attest to the following four major adjustments you need to make:
1. Let them work remotely.
Allowing millennials the option to work from home not only feeds their desire for autonomy, but also makes modern business sense. A recent study found that call-center workers were 13.5 percent more productive when working from home. This group also took fewer sick days, quit at half the rate of their office-based peers and reported higher levels of job satisfaction.
Most of my team members work primarily from home and only visit the office for occasional meetings and check-ins. This has proven to be a productive practice for us, and technology makes it easy.
2. Don’t micromanage.
Millennials are a particularly confident group. While all new employees require some mentoring and teaching, millennials prefer the freedom to spur their own growth and familiarity with their positions.
Help them do this: Empower your millennials by trusting them to try new things and explore new ideas without being micromanaged each step of the way. I have experienced mostly positive results when allowing my young employees to tackle challenging situations on their own. Afterward, we meet and talk about what worked, what didn’t and how they can improve in the future.
3. Allow for flexibility.
One of millenials' defining characteristics is their preference for purposeful work over plump paychecks. When you place millennials in roles that fit them perfectly, they’ll be loyal to your company, remain highly engaged and work their tails off.
But, in return, they want to be treated as human beings who have outside interests. They want the flexibility to pursue their hobbies, hit the gym or pick up their kids from daycare. While they desire jobs worthy of their sweat and creativity, they also want the flexibility and freedom to pursue outside hobbies and interests.
4. Don’t let them get bored.
Boredom is a feeling that absolutely cripples millennials. They’re used to having constant, unlimited access to many sources of entertainment, and they’ll quickly quit any job that leaves them bored eight or more hours a day. A recent report out of Canada found that 29 percent of people who quit their jobs did so because they were bored and unhappy -- the second most common reason cited in the survey.
To escape this fate, make sure you create a fun and engaging work environment that still encourages productivity and profitability.
The days of lifelong employment at one company are over. Millennials are more than willing to job-hop until they find the right fit. Avoid the headache of filling open positions and adjust to their quirks -- no matter how unconventional they may be.
Related: 5 Millennial Myths to Avoid