Millennials have had more than their fair share of bad press lately. Dubbed the ‘go nowhere’ generation, they’re often associated with a lazy, risk-averse attitude, but are they just misunderstood?
With inspirational millennial entrepreneurs making headlines and many businesses investing in a millennial workforce, it would seem so. Nick Pollitt, managing director of office furniture provider DBI Furniture Solutions, spoke to a range of businesses and found that millennials could be one of your business’s biggest assets.
1) They crave responsibility and thrive when empowered
One of the most common criticisms aimed at millennials is that they’re self-entitled – possibly down to their parents’ openness to involve them in family decisions as children. Giving them a sense of responsibility from a young age, this kind of parenting has led many young people to feel they should also be able to have similar input in the workplace.
However, this trait can actually be of significant benefit to employers if they approach it in the right way. Give a millennial employee ownership of a particular area (no matter how small), and they’ll feel infinitely more valued, and that their work is having a real impact on the wider business.
Joshua Hebert, CEO of Magellan Jets, says, ‘Give millennials a boring task without a reason, and they’ll give you boring results. Give them a share in the idea you’re putting into play, however, and they are more likely to turn in work you never imagined.’
Boosting morale and motivation, businesses adopting a team structure that focuses on empowering younger employees are likely to see a happier, more dynamic workforce. This kind of environment also breeds skilled workers, with further benefits down the line when these employees are able to step up to higher positions without hesitation thanks to their experience
2) They’re open to change
Thanks to their parents encouraging them to speak up, millennials are conditioned to openly question processes in a business if they think they can be improved.
Rather than starting work and blindly following the rules because “that’s how things have always been done”, millennial workers are open to change and likely to challenge things when older workers would perhaps be more reserved.
People development consultant, Susy Roberts, says, ‘Generation Y aren’t more demanding – but they are different. They’ve been brought up in a team environment and encouraged to speak up when things aren’t right. And this, as any good business coach will tell you, is simply best practice.
‘With millennials, it’s definitely not all about money. An open working culture that respects individual views and opinions is essential.’
While some business owners may see this as a lack of respect for authority, that is simply not the case. Keen to make their mark and not afraid to challenge the status quo, millennials can help shape a business for the better, bringing in inventive ways of thinking that can streamline processes and increase efficiency.
3) They’re on a constant mission to better themselves (and your company)
Another frequently discussed millennial attribute is their desire to develop and progress.
While some people may see this as a negative thing (and the reason for a higher turnover of millennial staff), it can also be seen as highly positive. Who wouldn’t want a workforce that’s driven to improve and expand their skillset?
Ninety-five per cent of millennials say they are motivated to work harder when they understand the importance of a particular task within the context of a company’s big picture goals. One way to harness this is to actively help and encourage them to learn everything they can about the operation at hand.
Through learning new things, millennials can quickly become experts in their field, becoming serious assets to any business in the process.
4) They’re digital natives
Raised by computers and smartphones, millennials are the first generation born in today’s tech-centric world. An essential part of their daily lives, 53 per cent of millennials say they’d rather lose their sense of smell than access to their devices.
With advancements in technology changing businesses all over the globe, the digital-savvy nature of millennials means they’re immune to change. Able to adapt almost effortlessly, the younger workforce requires next to no training when it comes to adopting new processes.
Not only does this save businesses a lot of time, it means you have a workforce that is instantly familiar with the latest tools (e.g. social media) and knows how to use them to produce results.
5) Their productivity is through the roof (in the right environment)
Even if the lazy stereotypes are true under normal conditions, there’s a relatively simple solution to unlocking the incredible potential of the younger generation in the workplace.
Forward-thinking businesses are coming to the realisation that, when it comes to millennials and productivity, creating the right environment is a key factor. Gemma Spinks, director at Neo PR, says, ‘At Neo PR we love hiring young, vibrant, hard-working millennials, but we appreciate that they do like to work in a slightly different way. We have tailored our office to keep our employees motivated, engaged, active and enjoying themselves.’
Ben Garry, a 20-year-old SEO Executive, is a big fan of vibrant work spaces. Speaking about his time at Impression agency in Nottingham, he adds, ‘For me, working in this kind of environment has really helped me to integrate with the wider team. It makes collaborative working much easier; not only do we have plenty of spaces for meetings, but the more informal chats over a table tennis game or a beer on a Friday evening can lead to new ideas and more creative strategies.’
Whether you believe the stereotypes or not, investing in millennials is the future for every business.