Millennials get a bad rap in the workplace.
From entitlement to job hopping, few employers around the country paint a positive picture of this generation’s work ethic.
Before you bash the newest crop of college grads to enter the workforce, consider this: By 2020, it’s predicted that nearly half (46 percent) of all U.S. workers will be Millennials, making them the single largest group to occupy the American workforce. In comparison, the Gen X population only makes up 16 percent of today’s workforce.
As more baby boomers retire, organizations will turn to Millennials to fill their leadership gaps. Given this pending reality, it’s important to understand what this generation is looking for in the workplace so you can develop and retain the right professionals for your teams. (Click here to tweet this list.)
1. Keep the feedback coming
Millennials grew up in the age of social media and smartphones. They’re accustomed to having continuous feedback from their extensive networks in the palms of their hands. It should be no surprise that they crave constant feedback in the workplace.
Don’t rely on annual reviews alone to let this group know how they’re doing on the job. Hold weekly team meetings and other more frequent, informal, individual check-ins to provide your Gen Y-ers with ample feedback in real time.
2. Team up
This generation is considered to have some of the best collaborators out there. Take advantage of this in the workplace by assigning your newest employees to team projects. Be sure to provide clear instructions and concrete deliverables.
Whenever possible, explain how the goals of the assignment fit into the bigger picture for the department or company. Millennials work best when they believe in (or at least understand) the goals behind their work.
3. Let them loose
Millennials value work-life balance and want flexibility in their work schedules to achieve it. Allow your employees to work from home or set more flexible hours so they feel more in control of their work days.
As long as your team members can meet their deadlines and produce great work, don’t feel obligated to have them in the office. Thanks to great technology, it’s easier than ever to work remotely and still be productive and collaborative.
4. Encourage learning
Gen Y-ers crave personal enrichment and are always looking for ways to build their skill sets. Provide professional development opportunities such as tuition reimbursement for related course and certifications, access to trade shows and other relevant conferences, as well as eLearning courses to develop softer skill sets.
Millennials are less likely to jump ship if they feel they’re still growing at the organization.
5. Provide mentors
Unlike previous generations, Millennials look to their managers for career coaching and mentorship. While you can provide some of this during your 1-on-1 sessions, there are other ways you can help these employees get the guidance they desire.
Try assigning each new employee to a “co-pilot” – someone who has been with the company for awhile and started out in similar role. It’s a great way to offer additional mentorship while demonstrating the potential growth opportunities at your company.
6. Offer faster advancement
Millennials value results over tenure and expect to climb the corporate ladder much faster than previous generations. Keep your high achievers engaged and motivated by fast-tracking those with the most potential.
This could be as easy as creating additional levels in your department or offering access to special professional development opportunities.
7. Allow them to BYOD
Millennials have a strong attachment to their devices. This, coupled with their need for work flexibility, makes BYOD — Bring Your Own Device — policies, incredibly attractive. These policies allow employees to bring their personally owned smartphones, tablets and laptops to the office for work.
Sure, you’ll need to set some ground rules, but allowing your employees to work with their own devices can also increase productivity. A survey by Ring Central found that 84 percent of Millennials use mobile phones for work while on personal time.
Amanda Augustine is the Job Search Expert for TheLadders, the premier mobile career network, committed to finding the right person for the right job since 2003. Follow her at @JobSearchAmanda on Twitter and Like her on Facebook for up-to-the-minute job-search and career advice.