Let’s face it. There are a lot of negative stereotypes surrounding Gen Y. Also known as Millennials, researchers classify them as babies from the 1980s to late 1990s. Coddled by their parents, some say Gen Y is lazy and others claim its members are entitled. Though many people love to debate the characteristics of the average Millennial, one thing is clear: they’ll soon take over your office.
Quite simply, you need people in their 20s and early-30s if you want your business to remain successful. A report from management consulting company XYZ University says 10,000 Baby Boomers retire every day in the U.S. By 2028, they’ll be completely out of the office. Gen Y, meanwhile, will dominate the workforce.
It’s clear you need to start attracting and retaining smart, driven members of Gen Y. Here’s how you can make your office friendly for Gen Y talent.
Establish a results-only work environment
If you want to hire motivated Gen Yers, stop tracking hours. Two-thirds of people in their 20s and early-30s expect to work flexible hours at home and in the office, according to multinational professional services company PwC. This attitude won’t change any time soon. A Cisco Systems study notes that 70% of students state being in an office from Monday to Friday is unnecessary.
If you establish a results-only work environment (ROWE), office hours won’t matter. Best Buy human resources managers developed the strategy. It lets team members do what they want, when they want. The catch is that they need to do high-quality work and respect deadlines.
A ROWE doesn’t work for some industries. Chefs have to go to kitchens and building managers need to interact with tenants. Best Buy even cancelled the strategy after almost ten years. But it’s a manager’s responsibility to make sure the policy doesn’t get abused by entire teams that work from home every day without communicating.
Gen Yers who enter industries that allow for freedom will gladly take all they can get while still delivering results. This statistic from Cisco highlights the importance of flexibility: a third of people under 30 prioritize social media freedom over salary when accepting an offer. In other words, the typical Gen Yer will gladly work from home a day each week and take some social media breaks. But they'll only do so if the quality of their work isn't comprimised.
Don’t depend on email
It’s almost always necessary when communicating with people outside your business, but try not to rely on email for internal communication. Younger team members tend to stay away from it. Only 18% of Millennials use email as their go-to communication tool, according to employment services corporation Randstad. More than half of them prefer in-person discussion when they’re in the office. It’s fast, personal and promotes two-way communication. There are reasons for a shift away from email. A New York Times article points to its time-consuming nature. Putting thought into writing a formal message doesn’t make sense when it might take hours for the receiver to read it, let alone respond.
A Texas A&M University study suggests instant messaging is a better alternative. Its speed suits the flexible, yet informal, working nature of the average Gen Y member. This allows for less wasted time. Again, most Gen Yers are driven by results instead of the hours they put in.
Offer immediate direction and training
Many Millennials are confident and want to manage themselves as much possible, according to Gen Y scholar Carolyn Martin. Managers often believe this means young team members reject guidance and instructions. But Martin says this is a common misbelief.
More often than not, Millennials want clear directions and managerial support. In other words, you can tell them the necessary steps to take to reach a certain result. They’ll welcome your directions. But don’t be shocked when they slightly adapt the process to suit their skills and workflow. Like with any new employee, managers must offer this support while adapting to Gen Y’s trials and errors.
Along with offering immediate direction, training is a necessary incentive to attract Gen Y talent. You can’t entice them with promises of climbing ladders, explains Martin. This is because 91% of Gen Y expects to stay in their current job for fewer than three years. Training, on the other hand, continuously entices Gen Y talent. Work on your coaching skills to keep them focused and motivated. Most importantly, prepare short training modules to help your teammates tackle new tasks. This sort of professional development appeals to workers of all ages. But the atmosphere of such a business will attract and retain young professionals.
When they’ve earned it, delegate meaningful work
Nothing dissuades Gen Y talent – or any talent, for that matter – like menial tasks. A common stereotype says Millennials demand important work. But a study by human resources company PrincetonOne dispels this. Though the typical Gen Yer wants meaningful work, he’s comfortable waiting for it. In the meantime, workforce solutions leader Kelly Services recommends giving young team members greater ownership of their tasks. Help them set a few challenging goals with tight deadlines so they can build responsibility.
Eventually, they’ll ask for more responsibility. Martin says this solves a problem managers have faced for years: not enough people want difficult, important duties. The average Gen Yer is eager to contribute and accept ambitious challenges. This is why a Deloitte study says Gen Y wants, and receives, more responsibility earlier than its predecessors. Be sure to entice Gen Y workers with this prospect. But make it clear they have to earn it.
Whether or not you see the need to attract Gen Y talent, these four suggestions can make teammates happier and your workplace more welcoming. After all, Gen Y simply asks for what everyone else wants, says Laszlo Bock – Google’s senior vice-president of human resources.