Our world seems to be spinning faster and faster, and in the middle of it are struggling managers who must continually balance technological change while learning to supervise a new generation of employees, known as Millennials.
This new generation of employees has different expectations and agendas, which requires that their managers be trained accordingly. Given, that over 50% of employees will be Millennials by 2020, managers will need to learn quickly and succinctly how to help this group maximize their work effectiveness and productivity while helping them understand that “job hopping” is not a career.
Millennial Expectations: Right or Wrong?
The overall statistics on Millennials’ expectations of business are not positive. For example: AccessPerks put together a few statistics that reveals the differences in Millennials and the rest of us:
Millennial Employee Engagement and Loyalty Statistics
- 29% of millennials are engaged at work, 16% are actively disengaged, 55% are not engaged (Gallup)
- Millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually (Gallup)
- 76% of Millennial employees expect to change careers – not just jobs – at some point (Cornerstone)
- 93% of millennials left their company the last time they changed roles (Gallup)
- Top reasons why Millennials consider leaving their jobs: to make more money, to move forward in their careers, to pursue work that is more aligned with their passions, and to have more flexibility/better work-life balance (Boston College)
- 51% of U.S. workers overall (60% of millennials) are considering new employment opportunities (Gallup)
- Engaged Millennials are 64% less likely to say they will switch jobs if the job market improves in the next 12 months (Gallup)
- Millennials (29%) report that higher salary is the biggest contributor to their loyalty, compared to 20% of the broader workforce (Staples)
- 57% of Millennials believe corporate loyalty is dead (Elance/Odesk)
- 82% of Millennials say they are loyal to their employers (but only 1% of HR professionals describe Millennials as loyal to their employers) (Beyond.com)
- 53% of CFOs say millennials are less loyal to the company (Duke/CFO)
- 52% of Millennials think employee loyalty is overrated (Elance/Odesk)
- 53% of hiring managers say it’s difficult to find & retain Millennial employees (Elance/Odesk)
- 87% of companies said it cost $15,000 to $25,000 to replace a departed millennial employee (Millennial Branding/Beyond.com)
- 25% of Millennials believe that staying at a job for seven months indicates they’re loyal; Boomers believe that number is five years (Ultimate Software)
- Millennials who feel they’re at a great workplace are 25 times more likely to plan a long-term future at that workplace (Great Place to Work)
- 62% of millennials who feel they can talk with their manager about non-work-related issues plan to be with their current organization one year from now (Gallup)
As we read the above stats, we are beginning to understand Millennials perceptions of business and the general concern that business must change or Millennials must change. Either way, change must happen and happen quickly because Millennials are the future of work.
Technology or Millennials: What is most important for business success?
As we are busily learning Millennials’ views on the world, technology is knocking at the door, ready to come in. Technology is a frequent visitor and a primary company goal that is expected to decrease production time and increase profitability, so there is no option but to move forward with all tech changes as quickly as possible. We are in a dilemma of needing to do two very different tasks at one time. we know that our large group of Millennial employees must be on-boarded and trained. We also have to be aware that new tech products are arriving daily and must be set up immediately while also training employees. The tech products are critical for the company, since they will save the company money, increase sales and make life easier for employees and managers.
Which is more important: Have up-to-date technology that saves time and money, or have productive Millennials who comprise almost 50% of our employee population.
Both are important and each one supports the other. Is it possible to proceed with both as quickly as possible? Needed changes must occur since both Millennials, known as the “future of work“, and technology (now called the Digital Age) are upon us and both require time and effort.
Millennials: Understanding Our ‘’Future of Work’’
The “future of work” is demanding attention, but we also currently have busy eight hour-plus routine work days that must be squeezed into our work agendas.
Knowing there are solutions for both needed change elements and determine that, for now, we can focus on understanding Millennials’ view of business in hopes of garnering their support with needed tech implementations.
Understanding Millennials is complicated, but as their managers, we enjoy the positive and friendly nature of Millennials. They are the first to volunteer to work in teams and it’s very apparent that they easily move into diverse groups. Their can-do attitudes positively affect other workers.
We have observed that most Millennials require frequent feedback from their manager. we’ve estimated that if a manager could respond to their every wish for feedback, that manager would be spending more time on feedback than working on any other tasks. In an effort to dodge the feedback, managers can implement weekly meetings for each employee.
Millennials groups are not usually shy and routinely asks for an ongoing variety of tasks, assignments, and challenges. They readily admit that they are multitaskers who continually move from one project to another but seldom finish before they are involved in at least two other projects. Are they more productive? We do not know, but they are happier when working several projects at one time.
It is obvious that Millennials are quickly frustrated. They clearly are accustomed to having whatever they want immediately, either from their parents, friends or computers and cell phones. Patience is not one of their virtues. Are you beginning to think it’s not one of yours either?
This group of multi-taskers becomes bored quickly, which adds to their frustrations. They freely share their frustrations with us, as their managers, and expect us to plan their careers and future so that boredom or frustration does not occur. This may be a product of youth, but they must understand the basics of business life. Regardless, it is rewarding to see this group work on several projects at one time and not complain about having to do so.
The most time-consuming feature of Millennials is their need for leadership, mentoring and coaching – all of it from their managers. They look to their managers as they have previously done with their parents and teachers and expect instant availability to talk about their concerns or needs.
One of the most difficult challenges when managing Millennials is accepting their need for work flexibility. This is clearly important to them, so we have found it wise to accept their need for flexibility and agree that this group can periodically work at home some days, or take personal time off at work and self-allow themselves to “have a work-life balance”. We as managers need to be aware that if we do not allow their work flexibility needs, they will contact a few of their many connections, and move to another company. Additionally, they clearly do work at home, as promised.
One very positive note about Millennials is that they are typically sophisticated computer experts. This group grew up with computers and quickly determines how to make something work, while the rest of the team is still trying to determine if the computer is the problem or are they the problem. These Millennials skills are valuable assets and routinely saves the company money and time while ensuring that there is no breakdown of equipment.
Technology Improvements Are Critical
As expected, the latest technology improvements are demanding more time and attention. Regardless of daily tasks and learning Millennial management techniques, we must spend time with critically-needed new equipment.
As w try to calm my frustration, we can remember when tech was not an important factor in management. There was a stage in the 90’s when many middle managers were displaced and technology assumed major portions of their roles. During this period, managers who remained in their jobs quickly learned to accept new technology and eventually learned to correctly utilize the tech tools as they were intended. We can see clearly that in our current environment, tech is, or will in the future, replace many positions.
It is easy to agree with many others that there are many positives in both the Digital Age and Millennial generation. Both are demanding better business behaviors that result in changing the roles of management. For example, it is no longer appropriate or tolerable to be “the Manager from Hell”. Employees, especially the younger generations, do not tolerate this type of activity and are quick to share their thoughts through social media and company executives. The utilization of worldwide sharing of social media has helped companies understand that this type of behavior was not acceptable and resulted in negative employee performance and productivity, greatly decreased numbers of customers and furious stake holders.
As a result, Managers and companies are aware of the effect media has on company success and profitability. They have also accepted on-going data indicating that employees are much more productive, engaged and perform better if their Manager creates a supportive environment. Even though more manager time is required, the improved results offset time requirements. It is obvious that being supportive of the team is past due and that we must create more effort to align new technology while gaining a better understanding of it.
Achieving Millennial Improvements to Increase Their Success
Future success is an imperative for both Millennial and technology changes. Since Millennials are normally computer experts, we will focus on their needs first. Anticipating that this group can then assist everyone in understanding how to make the latest tech tools do what they are supposed to do.
We must help Millennials learn to create relationships even though they would rather spend their time doing what they choose to do. We can also remember that Millennials are notorious for having a lack of patience when their gratification is not instantaneous. Understanding that this is due to having grown up with technology, and being accustomed to ordering everything online, watching movies as they choose to do so and having apps for just about anything. That’s great, but it is not what builds relationships, or careers, or tolerance by their managers, so we will focus on relationship building, improving patience and tolerating what they consider intolerable.
It’s time this group of “youngsters” gets help for now and in the future. Since their world revolves around technology, time management tech tools will be provided to help them deal with both their time spent on emails or chat rooms and time they should have been spending on developing work relationships or working on their goals. Perhaps this will even help with their constant multi-tasking so that they learn to spend time focusing on one thing instead of constantly “jumping” from one situation to another and seldom finishing any task at one time.
The process of utilizing technology to train Millennials is working, so it’s time to advance to another Millennial bad habit: following their manager around constantly asking questions, wanting details of everything and expecting instant answering and dropping everything to answer their questions. There is simply not enough time in a day, week or month to answer everything and still get our job responsibilities taken care of. So, what to do?
It’s obvious that this group of kids craves attention from their leader or manager, just as they did with their parents when they were younger. Statistics indicate that manager-related attention does make a difference in their success at work. For example, SuccessFactors and Oxford Economics surveyed 1,400 Millennials and found that this group really wants at least monthly mentoring with their managers, which is 50% more often than their peers. Unfortunately, the survey also said that less than 46% of these mentors met their anticipations.
Millennials expect their managers to be better, faster and more effective. They need their manager to create a roadmap for them which helps them understand how to become successful. These ideas are great for the Millennials, but time-consuming and energy draining, so we start a search to find a better roadmap for mentoring Millennials. Thankfully, we found a few ideas that work and are enjoyable for both Millennials and the groups helping them. Here are a couple of ideas that successfully worked:
- Millennials in a team enjoy what we called “reverse” mentoring because they helped others, usually, executives, while the “mentor” helped them. Most executives have not been trained in technology basics, like social media, while Millennials have grown up with it. The “youngsters” can help the executives with needed technical training while the executives provide insight into their positions and share examples of many of their routine tasks. Each mentoring project lasts only a few months, so the executive mentors are not drained by the “‘yungsters” and the “youngsters” in turn, gained an excellent knowledge of the business. Morale is improved and relationships were formed by the Millennials and their executives. And, surprisingly, the executives enjoyed helping this group of potential future executives.
- Another mentoring group turns out to be more peer to peer than mentoring, but the attending groups enjoy it and learn a lot about their company, its products, and its people. This is more of a chat session of Millennials, but they learned from each other, developed strong relationships while sharing their opinions, thoughts, ideas and possible improvements. This effort proved to be an excellent onboarding program in which new employees usually feel much more comfortable asking their peers questions than they do asking higher level employees.
We’ve learned that Millennials are social creatures who enjoy all levels and ages of people and because of this, they need and anticipate collaboration and socialization from other workers, regardless of the level of authority. This group appears to ignore most authority and judges people by their attributes, instead of job titles. Perhaps this is because they view work as an important part of life and believe that it is integrated with their other activities. This is clearly the reason Millennials insist that their work be personally fulfilling.
Like most young people, Millennials need help from those with more experience and knowledge. As their manager, We need to recognize it is our responsibility to create a positive environment in which everyone is valued as a team member who takes pride in being part of a group that solves problems, is effective, and achieves their goals. To do so means that we must establish parameters for all, including Millennials.
Establishing Millennial Parameters
There were several parameters we can implement. The first and most important was creating a structure so that they have a place for their everyday business necessities, while at the same time, beginning to shore up their shortcomings:
- Creating a structure that Millennials can easily follow. For example, set expectations on following schedules, ensure an understanding of goals and work assignment requirements and timelines, follow-up on commitments to other team mates.
- Next comes giving this group something that is important to them: leadership and advice they want and need, and, as often as possible. It was important to share the entire “picture” of a project instead of small pieces. Also, be willing to teach and coach them, as needed.
- Try to focus on as many of the “positives” as possible: Show appreciation for Millennials’ self-assurance and their “can-do” attitudes. This works well and becomes contagious to other employees, as they see the positive results of Millennials’ interactions with others. It also helps other members better understand Millennial needs.
- Because this group enjoys being part of a group, encourage them to join as many teams as possible so that they can improve their teaming skills. The result? Several Millennials advanced to supervisory levels and we look forward to seeing them as possible future leaders.
- Millennials soak up attention and never seem to get enough. They are accustomed to their parents scheduling their lives around them and their teachers and friends always being available for them. Hopefully, they will eventually grow away from this need. For the time-being, we can request that their peers listen to them and pay attention to what they have to say.
- Lack of boredom is a major factor in Millennial success. Do everything possible to help this group avoid boredom by giving them ongoing challenges, difficult projects, training of others in technology requests, volunteer assignments and frequently change their work assignments. Also, verbally value their contributions and request that all others do the same.
- Millennials have been multitasking since they were infants and believe that it is important for their career success to continue to do so. They do this well, so why not let them continue? Provide them with a multitude of different tasks and projects and let them choose when to complete the project if there is no deadline.
- Millennials are obviously computer experts. It would be foolish not to take advantage of their capabilities with computers, cell phones, and electronic literacy. They can quickly analyze technical problems and implement the solution much faster than those of us who are “technology challenged”. They enjoy helping others, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
- The entire group of Millennials is excellent networkers who always keep their “options” open. They assume that “job hopping” is done by everyone and many routinely change jobs frequently for no apparent reason.
- Be committed to this group, and all other employees, that they will have work-life balance. It’s interesting that very few employees other than Millennials take time off work to spend with family, friends or sports events. We have increasingly learned from Millennials that they will go elsewhere if they do not have what they believe to be a work-life balance.
- Fun is important but is not a success factor in a career to most people. To Millennials, it is important. Perhaps it’s because of their age, that they have a real need for “fun”. Possibly, it is because this group is very centered on work-life balances and see work as part of their life; therefore, they want to enjoy their work because it is part of their life. This means they want and need to make friends with co-workers, so encourage long-time workers to admit them into their groups.
Bottom line: we all need Millennials as they are the future of work. Like all of us, they have both positive and negative aspects. Once we understand the wants and needs of this group and help them understand basic business structuring, they quickly grow into tomorrow’s potential leaders.
Millennials are a value-add to progressive companies and clearly, represent the future of work. They need our help now and we will most likely need their help in the future as technology possibly outpaces humans.
Technology, Millennials, and Managers Working Together
We desperately need help with implementing and learning technology. The time is now to get help from my Millennial team. They can absorb tech like a sponge and are interested in helping implement new technology and assist in training anyone who needs help, including managers and all others in our group.
As leaders and managers responsible for ensuring that part of the business is successful, we are aware that technology determines both our success and that of our companies. Technology moves much faster than humans because we do not have the same attributes as technology. Fortunately for us, Millennials are closer aligned with tech than any other humans. We need Millennials to implement and train on all new technology products, as well as assist in utilizing new tech products.
Observing Millennials routinely some of us are understanding new technology in less than two minutes. They are also more than willing to help implement and train anyone who requests their help. Ask for help and they will be immediately responsive to many requests. This group of “youngsters” is now currently helping their managers and team mates, who are mostly “oldsters”, with new implementations and training, which is awesome to see.
We asked Millennials to review current tech systems and advise how they could better use them for their jobs and, also provide some useful ideas for other team members. In less than one day, they had set up the following:
- Scorecards: The Millennials successfully set up key performance indicators and automated the process which resulted in a dashboard that could easily be shared with others. This saves hours of time for everyone and is something that everyone can utilize to make their changes or additions in their work responsibilities. It is very impressive in group meetings with executives.
- Video conferencing: Usually just used for communications in other countries. Millennials helped explain that this was vital when an employee worked at home or was not at work.It allows the group to have that time and information sharing with those not present and saves the hassle of chasing phone calls and/or email trains.
- Productivity software: The Millennials helped an assistant learn how to track each employee’s progress of their goals. The manager then reviews it to determine if someone needs help or has achieved their goals. This completes a job in minutes that might previously have needed hours to put together.
- Timekeeping software: Another instance of being aware of a product and not using it to a managers advantage. Millennials shared this with their manager and the company has been using it for anyone who wants to work offsite. It clearly lets the manager know who is working and the number of hours worked so that they can adjust their hours worked accordingly.
These simple software programs can save a couple of hours daily that can now be utilized for other work. This group easily sets up new tech products, trains everyone and supports those who need further assistance.
In summary, Millennials can add tremendous value to a company, especially technology. And, yes, they require a lot of their manager’s time and ask millions of questions, but they are very collaborative, value diversity, team oriented and will help others. Their positives outweigh their negatives and we believe that this group is exactly what is needed in today’s technology world.
As technology becomes more powerful, those who quickly grasp it and take control of it will be our world’s leaders. They Really are the “Future of both Tech and Work”.