Millennials and Gen Z now comprise about half of the American workforce, which some corporations still find problematic. Millennials and Gen Zs don’t think, work or process information the same as Gen Xers and baby boomers do, and that has created challenges in workforce development. Often, pairing these very technology-enabled generations with experienced senior resources leverages the best of their collective experience.
Every generation disrupts the status quo, and that’s a good thing. Through Keyot’s innovative, award-winning Crew212® program, we train and mentor a group of recent college grad consultants that our clients can then hire at the end of their engagement. With more than 8 years of launching these young professionals, we can confirm the advantages and opportunities they bring to the workforce.
Here are a few ideas to incorporate millennials and Gen Z into your next generation of leaders.
Show how their work influences corporate impact
These young professionals are driven by purpose, and your company’s mission may be one of the things that attracted them to the organization. But, can they see how their work relates to the bigger picture? Our Crew212® program includes a two-week bootcamp to help our consultants find the customer in all organizational functions. We put them through a series of exercises to answer, “Who is your customer?” “What are they getting from you?” “Who is your customer’s customer?” “What are they getting?” We continue this exercise until each consultant can connect the dots between his or her individual contributions and the company’s mission.
Give them feedback, regularly
Here’s why: As children in the wake of 9/11, their parents focused on protecting them in an unsafe world. Millennials and Gen Z are used to receiving attention, and they flourish with it. Immediate, effective feedback allows these young professionals to produce better results more quickly, making their workflow even more efficient. Regular, open communication—both praise and critique—is an essential component of job satisfaction and effectiveness. Conduct weekly one-on-ones, provide group mentoring, and develop clear goals, assignments and tasks. Regular feedback will unleash a powerhouse of productivity.
Mentoring is extremely important to us at Keyot. Keyot provides more than 200 hours of training to our young professional employees. This includes valuable resources such as in-person training, access to our online learning platform and one-on-one mentorship with senior Keyot employees.
Prepare for extreme collaboration
Millennials and Gen Z are collaborative by nature. They work effectively on teams, value community and will break down any silos or communication issues within an organization as they connect across departments, divisions and business units to get work done. While baby boomers want to be respected, millennials want to be heard. They approach work with a “you teach me, I’ll teach you, and let’s see what we can accomplish together” openness that prioritizes goals over org. charts. As a manager, being open to learning from these young professionals will greatly increase your effectiveness.
Expect a 40-hour workweek
But, it will be a highly efficient 40 hours. As digital natives, millennials and Gen Z are naturally analytic problem solvers, who are extremely focused on developing themselves. They thrive on learning new job skills. These young professionals also consume work faster than you can imagine, so keeping them challenged and busy will keep them engaged. Expect them to innovate new and different ways to be effective, so they can embrace their personal lives with equal passion and energy.
Allow for work/life integration
Millennials and Gen Z blend what they do personally with what they do professionally to successfully manage both. This may require flexibility from your organization. For example: We received a call from a client who was confused because one of our young consultants had left the office at 4 p.m., while she was in a meeting. When reached by phone, the consultant was on a bike ride and explained he would be returning to the office soon. He knew he needed to work late to support the client following the meeting’s outcome, and wanted to recharge for the busy evening ahead.
Reframe the “lifer” mindset
Gone are the days of the 30-year company veteran diligently working for a pension. Now, businesses should plan to refresh their workforce every 2-5 years. According to the 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, workers in management, professional and related occupations had a median tenure of 5.1 years. For all workers ages 25-34, the median tenure was 2.8 years. However, striving to retain your millennial workforce, even if some choose to leave, is still a sound investment in the future. A positive experience with your company can convert a former millennial staffer into an employee referral source, a valuable customer, or a future company leader who boomerangs back with new skills, insights, and appreciation.
Are millennials and Gen Z disrupting the workplace? You bet. Can your company benefit from this digitally savvy, purpose-driven, work-to-live generation? Absolutely! As long as you rethink the status quo and embrace their professional realities, you’ll reap the rewards.