Say what you want about Millennials – they’re lazy, entitled, tech-addicted, narcissistic, and killing industries left and right. But when you look at the facts, one thing is undeniable: they’re the future of business.
In 2016, Millennials became the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. They’ve also launched twice as many new businesses as the Boomer generation, and have a knack for successfully leading large teams: on average, managing teams of 122 people compared to the Baby Boomer average of 30.
Unfortunately, though, one stereotype does hold true: Millennials seem more loyal to their preferred smartphone brand than to their employers. In fact, a recent Gallup report shows that 21% of Millennials have switched jobs in the past year– that’s three times as often as Gen-Xers and other non-Millennials.
So how can employers keep these tech-savvy, participation-trophy-loving workers from seeking greener pastures?
Here’s what leading experts have to say about closing the generational loyalty gap:
Provide strong, hands-on leadership.
One of the most common complaints about managing Millennials is that they don’t want to pay their dues. They walk into the office on day one expecting to make substantial changes. Bruce Tulgan, management guru and author of Not Everyone Gets a Trophy: How to Manage the Millennials has a different take.
“They’ll do the grunt work,” he says. “They’ll do the grunt work very well, very fast, all day long. But they want to know that someone is keeping track: somebody’s helping them keep score, somebody’s giving them credit for all that grunt work. And… they know how much of the grunt work they have to do in order to earn a more interesting task.”
Explain the why.
Karen McCullough, nationally known expert on generational opportunities and workforce trends, weighs in on the importance of purpose. Talking about the bigger picture behind a certain task or projects helps young employees feel more connected to their work.
“When we stereotype this generation, we say that they can’t sit still… I think they can’t sit still when it’s boring,” she jokes. “Millennials are all about change. They’re ambitious and they want to give back. They want purpose in what they’re doing. They don’t want busy work, so you’re going to have to define why you’re doing this project.”
Be a collaborative leader.
“Gone are the days where the younger generation doesn’t speak until spoken to… If you ask a Millennial today to jump – they don’t say ‘How high?’ They ask ‘why?'” says Scott Zimmer, resident Gen-Xer at BridgeWorks, a company dedicated to bridging the generational divide in the workplace and marketplace.
“When it comes to effective generational communication, it’s not about age. It’s about understanding that each and every single generation is bringing something different, unique, and important to the table. And it’s up to leaders to tap into that.”
Tie fairness to productivity.
“Younger employees want to know why they can’t be promoted based on merit,” says one of today’s most sought-after generational experts and keynote speakers, Lynne Lancaster, “And older employees say ‘Hey, I’ve been here a lot longer- I deserve more.’ But as long as you tie the idea of fairness, really, to a productivity issue, then you’re going to be on safe ground with both generations.”
Give them more opportunity.
Aaron McDaniel, author of The Young Professional’s Guide to the Working World believes one of the best ways to develop and retain young talent is simple: give them opportunities. “When a Millennial comes to you with an idea, and you can find a low-risk way for them to test it out, that is incredibly motivating for them. They get to explore something they’re interested in and potentially contribute to your business.”
Millennials, like any good employees, want to contribute to their workplaces in a meaningful way. And they need leaders who recognize this generation’s unique talents and perspective in order for them to succeed.
Want to bring a leading generational expert to your next corporate event? Check out www.eaglestalent.com or call our office at 1.800.345.5607.