So you’re working with millennials. How exciting!
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts by next year, millennials will account for 36% of the U.S. workforce and by 2025, they will account for 75% of the global workplace. A millennial workforce can bring new technology, innovation, and creativity. As a Human Resources Generalist and a millennial myself, I observe a few things that human resource professionals should consider as they build culture and develop a millennial workforce. I currently work for Education at Work, which has more than 80% of millennial employees. As a two-and-a-half year old company, our Human Resource team encounters a lot of scenarios that has shown us how to work with this budding generation.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Millennials are sensitive about relationships with their coworkers.
Relationships with co-workers can make or break a millennial employee’s experience. On multiple occasions, our Human Resources team has helped accommodate students who want to work near peers who share similar interests or are part of a car pool to and from work. In extreme situations, we’ve also had students who want to switch programs because conflicts with schedules or peers. HR professionals should be conscious of how millennials view relationships and be prepared to help make necessary accommodations to maintain a peaceful (and professional) culture for its workforce. Additionally, they should also create a development program to help millennials strategically operate with peers they do not like,
2. Understand social media is a playground of expression for millennials.
As social media usage continues to grow, companies should prepare to deal with opportunities and risks that come from its’ millennial employees. A Leader’s West contributor notes that 73% of companies do not have a social media plan to help employees understand what they can and cannot say or do online. I believe millennial employees can be brand advocates or brand killers if Human Resource Departments do not implement clear and consistent policies. HR professionals should closely monitor social media – particularly in industries where consumer or client information can be at risk in order to intervene to dissolve compromising situations. Employees should also have an opportunity to participate positively in social media. It is up to HR to help resolve internal issues and provide support for millennial employee concerns because social media can (and will) be a place of refuge to be heard and place a spotlight on any unsolved internal business.
3. Be open to alternative ways to communicate with millennials for faster response times.
Voicemails are a thing of the past. Emails can be viewed as spam or be checked by a recipient weeks after being sent. When I was tasked with ensuring students completed forms to receive tuition assistance, I faced the challenge of communication. All traditional modes of communications delayed the process, as students were actively involved in school, at work, or in other organizations and often missed or forgot to respond to my email or call. After experimenting with text messaging, I found a faster response time and was able to process paperwork more efficiently to help disperse tuition assistance to universities and lenders on time. HR professionals should always review trends in order determine the best mode of communication for millennials employees.
4. Don’t cry if millennials speaks their mind without a filter.
Millennials are not shy about expressing their feelings in a work environment. I’ve often been taken back by my peers through interactions, because transparency and acknowledgement of emotions are important to millennials. Sometimes, conversations are not always comfortable, but I’ve learned that certain types of feedback and ideas can help an organization flourish. It is important to distinguish when millennial employees are just complaining and when millennials are seeking a change – for the better. However, if a millennial employee speaks with arrogance or without a filter, be firm and set guidelines for expectations so that conversations are easier to approach.
5. Peer mentorship is another form of validation for millennials.
I’ve seen a growing number of my peers and employees seek peer mentorship. Millennials often look for others in their generation who may be at a different level of their life to help them gain direction and provide validation for the things they are currently doing. Human Resource leaders should identify millennials who need guidance and pair them with other millennials who may have overcome similar barriers or can help empower them in the workplace.