As Baby Boomers gradually retire and exit the workforce, they are making room for Millennials (also known as Gen Y). Elizabeth Harmon outlines the challenges.
By 2020, Millennials could make up around 35 per cent of the workforce. But whilst the process of people entering and leaving the workplace is nothing new, it seems that Millennials have been causing quite a stir.
The problem is, Millennials are often shown in a bad light. They can be referred to as a lazy, “work-shy”, entitled and impatient generation. But this often isn’t the case. It is therefore worth remembering that a lot of what we read about Millennials is really just hyperbole and media hype.
For many businesses though, it’s the thought of change that causes resistance. There is a tendency to get stuck in a rut as “that’s the way we’ve always done it”. But to move forward and remain competitive, that can be a dangerous approach for any business. So, rather than clinging to outdated approaches and processes, now is the perfect time to adopt new strategies and create a more flexible, people-focused environment for all your employees. Making changes in an established company, whatever the size, is not always easy though. Older members of staff may resent a younger generation coming in and making waves. However, there are lots of things you can do to adapt to the changing environment, whilst making improvements for everyone:
- Implement flexible working practices
One of the biggest changes that needs to be made is to offer more job flexibility. Millennials are the first generation where partners having children will both have a career alongside parenthood. There is no longer an unwritten rule that the mother deals with child care, sick days, and doctor appointments. Things like flexible working hours and remote working can therefore benefit your employees, as they get to fit their work around their home life. Job flexibility will also benefit your business too, as you can still have great people working for you, who might otherwise have been unable to fit into strict office hours.
- Embrace new technology
Millennials are a generation who have grown up with the entire world literally at their fingertips, growing alongside massive advances in communications and technology. As a business, why not embrace their familiarity with new technologies and different ways of thinking? It may even help to make your business more innovative and give you an edge over competitors.
- Invest more in the happiness of your team
A happy workforce is a productive workforce, and while many of us may hesitate at the idea of asking about how employees feel, it can pay real dividends to be more in touch with what staff are thinking and feeling. If your employees feel that you genuinely care about them, their wellbeing and that of their family, they will be more inclined to care about you, and about the business as a whole. Businesses survive not on employees clocking on and off at the designated time, but on those passionate and invested individuals who will come in early, stay late and go well beyond the extra mile. You get people to invest their time and energy in you by first investing in them. That doesn’t have to mean spending a fortune. It’s more about your time and attention, showing appreciation for a job well done and sharing the successes.
- Understand what Millennials are looking for in a job
As well as providing flexible hours and investing more in the happiness of your team, it’s important to really understand what Millennials are looking for in a job, so they remain loyal to your business. It may come as a surprise that Millennials are not necessarily looking for the highest paycheck. Instead, they are interested in a good work/life balance, a job that they care about and feel that they are making a positive contribution to, or doing social good in some way.
- Change the views in your workplace
Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z are all different, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What’s important is that the different generations are made to understand each other and accept each other’s differences. Whilst Millennials can bring a fresh new approach to business, older generations bring years of experience. In your company, try to get different generations to accept each other by encouraging them to work together. For example, Millennials can help Baby Boomers come to terms with technologies, whilst Baby Boomers can share their wisdom with younger generations like Millennials.
Like it or not, the world is changing, and Millennials are the future of the workforce (and will become our future leaders). It therefore makes sense to work with them and embrace their approaches, rather than trying to change them.
Do you have Millennials working for your business? Do you feel that you’re making the most of them as a valuable resource for the future of your company? Tweet us @freshbusiness to let us know your thoughts.
Elizabeth Harmon is a writer for Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading online education providers. She discusses various subjects, including careers, business, and online marketing. Elizabeth is a Social Media Consultant with several years’ experience in the field. She has worked with a growing list of clients around the world, helping to build successful social media strategies, create effective content and much more. You can follow her on Twitter @Liz_Harmon.