It is projected that Millennials - people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s - will make up more than 50% of the workforce in the United States by 2025. The estimates for the health and human services fall closer to 65%.
Most managers will tell you that there are differences in managing across generations - this is a felt experience that is now being well-documented through research. What has been done to recruit, train, and retain talent for Generation Xers just is not as effective when used with Millennials.
Specifically, for Millennials, research shows that the notion that "people don't leave companies; they leave people" is more true than ever before. Millennials place significant value on being seen and appreciated for their individuality, while at the same time are used in collaborative environments in which group projects and socialization are the norm.
Millennials have grown up during a time when constant connection became a reality. In fact, for those born later in the generation, it is all they have known - many have never lived without the Internet. This allows for greater awareness of global events, including a heightened sense of troubling and unpredictable situations such as terrorism. This has lead many Millennials to seek meaning in moment-to-moment increments. That is to say that through the constant sharing of instant information, this generation is very much driven by finding meaning and purpose and having a positive impact on the world.
These findings give clues as to how managers can shift their approach with Millennials. In fact, in order to improve retention and get the most out of this growing segment of the workforce, managers will have to make adjustments.
Feedback. The notion that "no news is good news" does not work for Millennials. They yearn for feedback - they want to know how things are going, whether good or bad. This is certainly related to the constant feedback cycle that one receives through social media. It is important for managers to purposely have one-on-one conversations devoted to discussing the employees own growth and development. Additionally, more spontaneous moments of feedback and coaching are also important as this will increase the employees sense of their manager valuing and appreciating their contributions to the mission.
Training & Development. Research shows that Millennials value training and development three times as much as cash bonuses. They want to learn, they want to grow - forward movement is a key characteristic of this group. Millennials wants to feel invested in and through those investments gain knowledge, skills, and resources that they can then put back into the mission of the company, use in their own career advancement, and gain a deeper level of self-awareness, meaning, and purpose.
Mentorship. Millennials have grown up with much more individual guidance and attention than other generations. From very involved parents, to teachers and guidance counselors leading the way to college, many Millennials have come to expect a certain degree of hand-holding. This can be effectively implemented with creative mentorship programs. Not only does this provide a means of increasing the likelihood that the employee will learn the job, it also provides another one-on-one relationship that can aid in helping Millennials feel valued and invested in.
These are just a few concepts that organizations can be thinking about to adjust their management strategy to attract, develop, and retain this fast growing segment of the workforce. Look for more in our series on the Millennial Effect; we'll be going into more detail about specific strategies for managers and leaders to address this crucial people issue.