According to surveys, statistics and countless anecdotal accounts, modern employees between the ages of 22 and 35 have earned a reputation that sets them apart from younger workers in other generations. For example, all young workers tend to be curious and innovative, but modern millennials are especially so. And all younger workers tend to be emboldened by their relative lack of experience—in other words, they don’t know what they don’t know, so they’re less intimidated by what might go wrong. But compared to young workers in any generation, modern millennials are incredibly naïve and fearless.
These forward-thinking young people also tend to be more empathetic, better communicators, more idealistic, and more outward-focused then the generations of 20-somethings before them. So if you’re lucky and clever enough to have a few dedicated millennials on your team, what can you do to hold onto them? And how can you make the most of their valuable contributions?
1. Pay them.
Too many modern employers recognize that their millennial employees often work for personal fulfillment and the benefit of the greater good, not for money… And then these foolish employers immediately proceed to underpay and exploit them. Until they leave. Don’t follow this self-defeating pattern. Respect your millennial employees by treating them well, and remember that respectful treatment always starts with fair pay.
2. Give them opportunities to make a difference.
After adequate compensation, the best way to keep your younger workers on board is simple: make them feel like they’re part of something larger than themselves. If your company has any mission at all beyond lining your shareholder’s pockets, emphasize this aspect of the mission to your millennial teams and you’ll have an easier time earning their loyalty and respect.
3. Encourage them to share their ideas.
Whatever you do, don’t instruct your millennial workers to share their thoughts, ideas, and feedback and then lash out at them when they do. Zip up the criticism, stop interrupting, and encourage—don’t punish—them for sharing ideas that aren’t feasible. If you keep the doors and communication channels open, they’ll keep sharing. If you slam them shut, modern millennial employees don’t often have the resilience and thick skin required to keep putting themselves out there.
4. Use training wheels appropriately.
Know when it’s time to stop hovering over your younger workers and let them soar on their own…because they probably won’t. Modern young workers don’t often push for independence, and they don’t often reach for higher levels of responsibility until their supervisors declare that they’re ready. Observe their growth carefully, and when you decide it’s time, send them off. Let them know explicitly when they’ve earned your confidence and trust.
For more on how to manage, train and cultivate younger workers, reach out to the staffing pros at Expert.