13 Ways to connect With Your Millennial Employees

As Millennials continue to dominate the workforce across the globe, employers need to get a better grasp of what these young people expect from their organizations so that they can deliver personalized employee experience and result in higher retention. Taking the time to learn what is important to these millennials in an investment that will go a long way towards helping leaders forge a stronger relationship with them and most of their talents and abilities. In case you have forgotten what it was to be young, here are 14 ways you can connect with these young employees.

Relieve their stress

One thing that is prevalent across the entire millennial generation is how stressed they perpetually are. This could be due to increased screen time, video gaming, the copious amounts of information from social media platforms that their brains are forced to process on a day-to-day basis, or their unhealthy diet; life is a fire-hose pointed at them. If you are looking to better connect with your millennial workforce, find a way to calm their nerves.

You can start by investing in a state-of-the-art office environment with placating color palettes, curved cubicles that filter light, ergonomic desk chairs, and motorized standing desks. You can also offer them healthy eating plans, including breakfast, snack, and lunch. Most millennial find it cumbersome to wake up early in the morning and prepare their meals. The stress of getting to work on time deters them from whipping up healthy meals at home.

Most also don’t want to spend a lion’s share of their paycheck on food deliveries, which further adds to their stress. Even worrying about what to eat adds to their decision fatigue. They will find it so much easier to just pop into the office kitchen, grab a meal, and get back to work.

Hear Them Out

According to a recent Gallup study, 28 percent of young employees complain of constantly feeling burned out at work. If you are someone who prioritizes the wellbeing of their employees, take a good look at your company and analyze how your team is feeling. Hold a one-on-one with your millennial employees to identify the causes of their stress and identify how you can solve their issues.

Show them that you are there for them and care about their wellbeing. Employee burn-out leads to poor performance, which hinders their ability to make good on what is expected of them. When you offer support to solve that problem, it will not only boost productivity but also improve your company bottom-line.

Appear Vulnerable

Here’s something you should know about the millennials: they hate getting bombarded with unsolicited advice. But they will be all ears when you confide in them your struggles, successes and strategies for success. Instead of boasting about your wins and rubbing your perfection in their faces, share with them the mistakes you made in life, and what you learned as a consequence of those mistakes. They will be more willing to listen to you when you couch your advice within the framework of your own experience. They respond really well to personal experiences and feel connected to the person.

Be Inclusive

Don’t underestimate your millennial employees because of their age and inexperience or forget to include them in important decisions. Allow these young people to be part of a team or group and provide them with ample opportunities to learn and grow. Even allowing them to be part of meetings where they can learn from more experienced individuals builds their capacity and helps them to garner a better understanding of your business. Not to mention, you can always benefit from a fresh pair of eyes. They can add another important perspective to the group that may have been missing.

Encourage Innovation

There’s nothing millennials like as much as innovation and doing things their way. As collaborators and networkers, millennials have grown up with an innovative mindset drilled deep inside them. Find ways to foster and encourage their innovation by listening, absorbing and assimilating. They also welcome constructive feedback and know how to monitor, refine and implement it. However, beware of sounding authoritative or bossy.

Allow Remote Work and Flexibility

Millennials prefer workplace flexibility and remote working and if you have a millennial workforce, you will find it difficult to make them adhere to a stick-in-the-mud schedule. Millennials are a tech-savvy generation and have access to the latest tools and technologies, which means that they can easily work from anywhere they wish without causing organizational hurdles. Occasional or even permanent remote working can easily be accommodated by a plethora of task management or collaborative tools, such as Github or slack, while communication with co-workers, leaders, and clients can easily be organized via Skype or zoom.

While remote working was previously frowned upon, a lot of stigma surrounding remote working was lifted in the wake of the pandemic. Another benefit of allowing remote working and flexibility in working hours is that you can tap into a wider talent pool and hire better and more diverse employees.

Furthermore, online working allows employees to hone in on their communication, planning, task division and coordination skills, which adds to their soft skills.

Understand their idea of Fun

If you are not a millennial yourself, understand that Baby Boomers and Millennials have different ideas of what’s fun. Millennials typically don’t want you in the middle of their off-work time. Instead of ruining their weekend with parties or official events, you would do better to arrange something on a friday night after work, leaving them free for the weekend. No spouses/significant others. No fancy dresses or suits. Idly lounging on the sofa binging on Netflix with a couple of beers. Fun.

Recognize their Capability

Smart managers recognize what each individual employee is capable of and show respect for what their millennial staff can do. Instead of dismissing their style as ‘unheard of’, arrogant and shallow, or disparaging their contributions as “not something I would do”, cherish their self-assuredness as a talent that can contribute to improving productivity and boosting performance goals.

The fact is, millennials are better educated, tech-savvy, and task-oriented. They want you to reward their contributions and create a culture where there is room for them to grow and improve. Find out what each of your Millennials excels at and then figure out how they can do more of whatever they’re naturally great at.

Be Patient

These millennials can often come across as too brazen, often lacking humility and tact. Take them seriously, but not personally. Their method of message delivery may be poles apart from yours but don’t let this difference impede your understanding of that message. Whenever confusion arises, ask questions to clarify your understanding. Most millennials are open to sharing their opinions as opposed to older employees who may be more close-mouthed. Encourage their openness and honesty.

Support Learning and Development

Millennials are not a stick-in-the-mud generation. They want to keep on improving and learning in order to advance in their careers. Employers who encourage employee development have lower turnover rates. In addition to teaching them new hard skills, leaders should also invest in teaching Millennials personal and interpersonal skills, such as perseverance, patience, stress management, teamwork, and coping with pressure.

Empower Employees

Employee empowerment is all about giving your employees a voice in your matters and giving them the autonomy to make their own decisions. Employee empowerment is especially important when you have a millennial workforce. Millennials want to influence the company’s success, they want to be empowered.

Give Them More Face time

Millennials crave constant interaction and don’t really get along with laissez-faire bosses who meet them only occasionally. They want consistent feedback on their work and if something is awry, they wish to be informed at the earliest. Regular meetings and continuous feedback boost their performance, productivity, and engagement.

If you are looking to connect with your millennial employees, be sure to ask for their feedback and suggestions as well. Ask them, “How can I be a better manager?” Then be sincere and heed their advice. You can even engage with them outside of work. Millennials see work as a place you go to not only to get a paycheck at the end of the month, but also to socialize, have fun, make friends, innovate, and learn. Work does not limit their life but is a part of it.”

Keep it real

The best way to win the trust of your employees is to win their trust and that starts by being more authentic and transparent. Great leaders don’t stress about how they might be perceived and neither should you. Forget about who you think you should be, and just be yourself. As Karl Moore points out in a recent Forbes article: “The better you are at being an authentic leader, the more your millennial employees will appreciate you.” Like our Caribbean reef shark friends, Millennial can detect a drop of inauthenticity in an Olympic-size pool.

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