How can employers keep millennials engaged?
Millennials are the best and worst people to work with – at least that’s the encrypted message of Time Out Magazine. The popular stereotype is that we are self-entitled narcissists, hungry for success we haven’t worked for, and determined to reach the top rung of the career ladder. We also see ourselves as social activists, self-aware and more creative than our boss.
So not too many expectations, then.
Debates around millennials and how we should work with them as HR professionals were rife at the Culturevist Millennials Special event in back in July. Are the stereotypes accurate? Do we recognise the group as special in some way? What mixer do I have with my vodka?
Conclusions were broad. Some strongly argued that millennials just want the same as everybody else. They believed everyone should be treated equally in the workplace with no special ‘high potential’ groups based on generational divides.
Others put forward the idea that millennials crave transparency in a way that older generations don’t. We look for innovation in a way that is only natural to the digital native. From a generation where a 26 year old can be the CEO of one of the world’s’ biggest social platforms, why would we be interested in working for you? Another side of the room argued that these are qualities shared by anyone in a creative work environment. Millennials ain’t nothin’ special.
My favourite discussion point was not around what millennials are or what we want, but what we need. What can our leaders teach us, and what can we offer as managers? Lateral progression paths. Majors and minors. Core, sustainable aspects of a role, with the opportunity to explore other avenues. That’s what keeps us satisfied without demanding traditional progression left, right and centre. We’re impatient narcissists, remember.
The real learning from the Culturevist event is how we can create a true understanding of what progression is, and in turn, retention as a whole when it comes to millennials. There’s a misconception that ‘the path to success’ is full of fancy job titles, which is an issue in this generation. It’s just not as simple at that. We need true learning opportunities and projects alongside the day-to-day to keep us engaged. That’s free advice, from me to you, straight from the horse’s’ mouth.
Or you could offer us a constant supply of free food – hunger is universal.