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24 May 16

Take Advantage Of The Millennial Work Ethic

Posted by Rory White

A millennial is a person who reached their adulthood in the 2000s, and they are usually generalised as a lazy, entitled and self-absorbed generation. Millennials have been the topic of many a thinkpiece that laments the future of a society with them in charge. But what about the strengths of the next generation of employees? How can recruiters take advantage of all that young workers bring to the table?

First of all, don’t call them millennials

A study conducted by Pew Research shows that only 40% of ‘millennials’ identify with the moniker for their generation, compared to 58% of Generation X and 79% of Baby Boomers. This likely comes down to all of the negative connotations according to the word; nobody wants to be thought of as unmotivated and irresponsible. But I’m sure you know at least one person between the ages of 18-34 who is just as capable as any other employee in your workplace – you can see for yourself how they are resistant to stereotypes and are eager to shirk the cynical labels which are associated with them.

Understand their values

Like Baby Boomers and Generation X before them, millennials are bound by a set of shared values. The New York Times reports that they share ‘a lack of trust in authority, widespread tolerance, a desire to compromise and “a level of optimism that most people think is almost silly.”’

Think about what your workplace can offer people who value transparency, diversity, open-mindedness and idealism. Any structural or procedural changes that can be made to accommodate these values will inevitably result in a richer organisational culture.

Build reciprocal relationships

While millennials are worlds ahead in their digital aptitude and generally display more resourcefulness and commitment than their older counterparts, they still have a lot to learn in regards to strategic planning, managing change and general leadership. According to business strategist Amy Hutchens, cross-generational teams can leverage each other’s strengths in order to solve problems and create meaningful change more quickly.

Set goals, not hours

The way young people approach tasks isn’t about finding ways for them to fill the work day. ‘Millennial employees are dedicated to completing their task well. They have not been raised in a way that demands them to look around and see what should be done next. Instead, they ask “what is my job” and go about figuring the best, fastest way to complete that task. Then they consider themselves done,’ says author Cam Marston.

To get the most out of your young employees, measure how efficiently they complete their tasks instead of simply tracking when they clock in and out.

Appreciate them

Millennials are often roundly criticised for their self-assured entitlement, but there is a way to turn this can-do attitude into a positive. If praise and rewards are what motivate young people, why not give it to them? If they want to enjoy their work and their workplace, provide them with team-building activities and a social environment. Thank them for their work to make them feel valued. Employees who feel appreciated are far more inclined to be productive.

Millennial employees may have a self-centred work ethic, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, one could even predict that a making a transition in accordance with their values could see workplaces focus more on flexibility, tolerance and professional development. The results can be measured in higher staff morale, higher retention rate and better business results which benefits every employee, no matter their age, in the long term.