Why Do They Constantly Need a Pat on the Back?
Because we are used to getting it! You know those crazy participation ribbons you gave us? (That’s right. We did not give them to ourselves!) They set a precedent of “show up and we will recognize your effort.” It is no wonder that we now show up to work and are disheartened when no one says, “thanks for being here today.” Traditional managers often explain to me how showing up has always been in direct correlation with receiving a paycheck. I get that, but again, things have changed. There is an evolution here that has shifted from giving recognition to only those who go “above and beyond” to showing appreciation for all who have completed a “job well done” – even if it is their job. And there is a big difference between the two, for your Millennial workers anyway.
Because they received a pat on the back for just playing the game as a child, they are likely to feel slighted when they show up to every shift and do their job, and no one even notices. Even though I get the most pushback from older managers about this issue, it truly is the simplest one on which to find common ground and improve relationships. Aren’t you glad she met the deadline and got that report done? Just tell her she did a nice job. Aren’t you relieved he showed up on time? Just say thanks. Greater appreciation goes a very long way! And I assure you, if you implement this new approach of gratitude across the board, your team members of ALL ages will be thrilled to get the extra recognition for a job well done.
If They Aren’t Going to Stay, Are Millennials Really Worth Hiring?
Yes! Even if you have seen the Deloitte stats showing two-thirds of Millennial workers do not plan to be at their current employer in 2020, you should not avoid hiring Millennials. First, avoidance is not a sustainable methodology, because at 80 million strong, we will outnumber all other workers combined by 2020. You will quickly run out of applicants with that approach. Second, new hires of ALL ages are now considered a flight risk within the first 24 months because they do not have deep roots within the organization, which is the primary factor in determining levels of commitment. If they left their last company to come to you, they will likely leave your organization to go elsewhere sooner than you want.
And do not forget that our society has changed drastically in the last three decades. Record levels of corporate layoffs since the 1980s have diminished loyalty across our entire workforce, as many workers have been a victim of downsizing or watched their hardworking parents fall prey to it. My mom has been laid off five times as an accountant when her companies were acquired, her job was outsourced or her entire department was offshored to improve the bottom line. I honestly do not even know what company loyalty looks like. Even though I have never been loyal in the way previous generations were raised to be, my Millennial peers and I bring many other treasured characteristics to the workplace.
We offer tremendous value in our adaptability as organizations remain in constant modes of change today. We are extremely collaborative and seek strategic win-win partnerships as we get to know various aspects of our businesses and fields. We are drawn to efficiency and will often provide ideas for streamlining outdated processes and procedures to get to the result faster. Most Millennials have a thorough knowledge of current technology and can provide reverse mentoring for those who are not used to learning new hardware and software used in the workplace. Instead of focusing on the reduced length of tenure and frustrations today’s generational differences cause, consider taking a more holistic approach.
If every organization invests in young professionals today, it will be for the greater good tomorrow. Even if Millennials do not stay at your organization longer than a year or two, don’t you hope other organizations you are getting talent from are also investing in professional development for their young professionals, so you do not have to start from scratch?
So How Can We Bridge the Widening Gap Causing So Much Frustration?
Good old training and team building is essential! Most companies cut training and development for staff, managers, and leaders many years ago; and that decision has come back to haunt organizations who have promoted people without giving them the tools to successfully retain the talent they need. So the best place to start is with more effective management training.
As the mindset and expectations of employees evolve, be sure leaders and supervisors across the organization understand the differences in your specific workforce – generational, cultural, socio-economic, etc. Knowing that your staff come from completely different perspectives, of which there are no right or wrong views, it is critical that you help teams get to know one another better. Do your older staff and managers understand that today’s young workers have trouble separating personal from professional time because they only know a world where everyone has a smartphone in their pocket? And do your younger workers know why older workers are often more cautious to adapt to change as they did not grow up during the technology boom when Millennials learned to adapt quickly?
Encouraging team members to get to know one another builds trust over time, and colleague relationships play a large role in improving retention. Insist on holding quick team huddles at the beginning of all shifts to ensure everyone is on the same page and to provide a place where people can confidently ask questions. Then end each huddle with a team-building question where each person shares some insight into their own world. Examples could be, “What’s your favorite part of your job?” “Tell us something interesting about your family.” or “Do you have a cool hobby?” Topics such as music, travel, and pets are always easy starters to get folks talking.
Then, if you are a supervisor, get to know your staff on an individual basis. The “one-size-fits-all” management approach no longer works with today’s diverse workforce. A great way to build a strong relationship is by simply asking, “what’s on your mind?” Then be prepared to listen, as the response may be professional in nature, but they could also be stressed about something at home or a personal relationship. The more you get to know each staff member, the stronger the bond and the more likely they are to want to continue working for the organization because they know you care.
Finally, ensure all new hires have a clear understanding of company expectations. Now that you are more aware of the diverse mindsets in today’s workplace, putting a higher priority on communicating your expectations should make sense. If you say things like, “that’s just common sense,” or “she should know better,” that’s a trigger that you are not being as clear as you think. Your new hires cannot read your mind, and they probably were not raised like you, so be sure to get on the same page by bulking up your onboarding education and mentoring throughout the first year.
Did you miss Part 1 of this blog? Go back and read it here.