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5 Must-Know Millennial Mantras

elisa post 2-1There’s a lot being written about millennials right now. You might even say there’s a backlash against all the attention they’re getting. But if you’re a business leader, you need to tune in. Not to how they dress, their helicopter parents, or their mastery of technology. You need to understand how to engage them because they are such a growing, essential part of our workforce.

Earlier in my career, I struggled to connect with one of our millennial employees. She quit, and I couldn’t understand why. When I was able to learn her reasons for leaving, what I heard her say was, “We don’t have enough happy hours.” What I didn’t realize until much later is that it wasn’t happy hours, per se, that she sought. Rather, she needed more opportunities for social connection with her co-workers. She wanted emotional equity in the job. I learned my lesson, and it’s changed my leadership style ever since.

We’re in the midst of a talent war to attract and retain the best individuals so that our companies can create value. The influx of millennials throws another wrench in the situation. Today millennials are 36% of the workforce but, by 2025, they will be 75% of the global workforce. The problem–or opportunity–that many companies face is how to best integrate and leverage millennials, especially in multi-generational teams.

Here are some observations that guide how I work with millennials:

  1. Better together: 88% of millennials prefer a collaborative work culture rather than a competitive one. Nothing compares to the results you get from an integrated marketing team, and this statistic just reinforces my philosophy around working across teams toward shared goals.
  2. It’s just life: Millennials see work and life as seamlessly interconnected. As I’ve said before, it’s just life. This isn’t the same as work-life balance.Millennials expect to connect, communicate and collaborate with colleagues, partners and customers as seamlessly as they do with friends outside of work. Any time. 24×7. This fits in exactly with my comments in a previous post about work-life balance. It’s just life! We’re all gravitating to this model of work-life integration. It’s a healthier perspective and a welcome shift.
  3. How I want, when I want: PWC found that 66% of millennials would like more flexibility to shift their schedules, working in the morning or evening. I had a team member who didn’t come into the office until 10 AM, stayed until 2 or 3 AM, went home, woke up and did it all over again. This isn’t just about millennials. We all want flexibility. It comes down to matter of trust vs. forcing people to work within a traditional office hours model.
  4. Fun and happy: Millennials are already more engaged at work than Baby Boomers and Generation X. But because they often see the positive and have a penchant for job hopping, you can lose valuable employees if they become disengaged. They crave challenges and are eager to take on responsibilities early in their career. Give them opportunities and they’ll stay in the game. Further, almost two-thirds (64 percent) of millennials would opt to make $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they think is boring. You need to create a culture that people love. When you accomplish that, that love for the job translates in spades in terms of loyalty, commitment and results.
  5. Change the world: Millennials want to make a difference, and 90% believe they are actively contributing to an organization that is having a positive impact. When you communicate your company’s purpose clearly to all generations and then instill that sense of purpose in your employees, you’ll enable them do the best work of their lives, and help your company thrive.

Our careers are an ongoing process of developing skills to make us more successful in our positions. One of our main tasks now is embracing millennials. If your workforce is trying to attract and/or integrate millennials, please join me for a webinar on September 16, 2014, 11am PDT, with Anne Donovan of PwC, the co-author of the largest study ever conducted into the attitudes of millennial employees, titled “NextGen: A Global Generational Study.” We’ll talk more about millennials’ workstyles and offer some business and technology strategies you can use to make millennials successful. To learn more and participate in the webinar, please sign up here.