Would you rather go to the dentist or visit your financial institution for advice? If you’re like 71% of Millennials today, you’d rather listen to the sound of a drill in your mouth than listen to a banker discuss the ins and outs of smart financial planning, according to the Millennial Disruption Index.
What does that have to do with your business? More than meets the eye.
Even if you’re not in the financial industry, hearing how detested financial institutions are (to the point where you actually prefer physical pain) signals something greater. It is a sign that Millennials aren’t happy with the way things have been done in the past. This generation that makes up the largest portion of the workforce today, won’t settle for the status quo. They’re ready to break free from structure and if your business wants to keep up, it needs to acknowledge these new demands from employees.
The problem is, your business is likely comprised of a variety of generations. You probably have a handful of Millennials on your team, but you also probably have some employees from Generation X or beyond.
So, how can you embrace the cross-pollination of generations in your company? How can you create a culture that answers to the needs of each employee in your business? Let’s take a closer look.
Drop the Stigmas
The Guardian recently published an article citing five of the top stereotypes against people born between 1980 and 1994 (the technical Millennial generation). These include:
- A sense of entitlement
- A desire to work to live (instead of living to work)
- Compulsive job hopping
- Ignoring experienced colleagues
Stigmas are a dangerous thing. In the case of Millennial employees, they blind us from being able to see the true potential of the people on our team. If we expect laziness, we’ll roll our eyes when we see a non-motivated employee do something different than we would have. The response to subpar work tends to turn into a shoulder shrug and a handoff to a higher up to complete.
The problem with this is, it does nothing to motivate the employee. Perhaps the employee wasn’t clear on directions. Or, perhaps this has happened so many times in the past that the employee doesn’t feel invested in his work. He assumes someone else on your team will complete it for him, so he doesn’t push himself to his potential.
By dropping the stigmas, you can avoid falling into this trap. Instead, you’ll turn your company culture into one that’s motivating and encouraging. You’ll give each of your employees, regardless of generation, a reason to show up every day because their work is appreciated. This, of course, begs the question then. How can you infuse appreciation into your company culture? Here are a few ideas to get you going.
Get Comfortable With a New Way of Working
Millennials were brought up with iPhones and apps. This generation was raised with DVRs to fast-forward through commercials and search engines that replaced the need for encyclopedias. The way this generation was raised is vastly different than other generations because technology reshaped habits.
Today, Siri (Apple’s virtual assistant) can answer questions when people cannot. Around the clock, communication has become more of an expectation with the proliferation of email, chatbots, and apps. Today, the way people engage with one another is different. It makes sense then that this new way of operating pours over into the workplace.
With access to more (and bigger) data comes the expectation that businesses will become more agile. The new way of working relies less on quarterly reports to make strategic decisions and more on regular data pouring in to change approaches quickly. It requires employees to adapt quickly, which in turn requires faster and more thoughtful action on the part of every team member.
With access to around-the-clock communication comes a new expectation of a flexible workplace. Is there a need to only work from behind a desk? No, according to many Millennial employees who feel more comfortable working from coffee shops or their home office.
Embracing this new approach to how people work will help you build a company culture that Millennials, and all generations, want to work for. Start shifting now to a new way of working and as more Millennials pour into the workforce, you’ll be in a prime position to attract the top talent.
Actively Build Trust
Part of the new way of working involves building a healthy level of trust with your employees. After all, you need to know that they’re producing quality work, even if they’re working from their kitchen table.
Give your employees the freedom to make more decisions. Actively work to build their trust by showing them that you trust their decision-making skills. Yes, continue to have oversight. But also work to loosen the reins so you don’t suffocate your employees, or make them feel like they’re not able to make good decisions. Using apps and modern technology is a great way to achieve balance while still actively working to establish a deeper level of trust among your team.
Invest in Their Future
Almost three-quarters of Millennials said they planned to leave their company in the next two years. The biggest reason why? Because their leadership skills were not being fully developed, according to a study by Deloitte.
Despite wanting to work from anywhere and have access to technology to make decision making on-the-job easier, Millennials also want stability and growth opportunities. They want to know that the future has the potential for their individual goals.
In your business, you can help fulfill this need while retaining your top employees by investing in their future. Schedule regular professional development opportunities. Mentor your employees. Play an active role in their short and long term goal achievement. They’ll thank you by becoming more loyal to your company and working harder.
Shifting Company Cultures
Shifting company culture isn’t easy. It requires everyone in your company to drop common stigmas and change with intention. By acknowledging the way the world works today, you can reshape your culture to be more agile, more accepting, and more encouraging today and in the future.