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Tapping into the Energy of Millennials

May 20, 2013 • Peak Performance

MillennialsLast fall, I attended an interesting roundtable on Millennials hosted by the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation.  Since then, I’ve noticed how often I hear discussion around Millennials—also known as Echo Boomers or Gen Y.

So what defines this generation of over 80 million young Americans that make up our nation’s future?  And how can companies better engage Millennials in the workplace?

Who Are They?

Every generation has a collective identity, defined by their overarching core values, attitudes and worldviews.  A few facts about Millennials from the Pew Research Center:

  • They are the most ethnically and racially diverse cohort of youth in our history.
  • To date, they are the most politically progressive age group in modern history.
  • They have grown up with innovative technology like texting, Google, and social media.
  • They are more inclined to trust institutions than either of their predecessor generations did at the same age.

Workplace Culture: Striving for Balance and Meaning

Millennials are on track to become the most educated generation in history, and in a decade or so, will account for nearly half of the employees in the world.  Surveys have shown that Millennials are more concerned than previous generations about “work-life balance” and “making a difference.”  Millennials want to be truly engaged and have an emotional connection to their work.  Companies that provide a level of flexibility—whether paid time off, the ability to work from home, or flexible hours–  are appealing to Millennials.  Similarly, when Millennials feel like they are making a real difference, they are far more engaged in their work.

Workplace Culture: Communication and Collaboration 

Millennials tend to value constant and consistent feedback and collaboration.  Because they grew up in a social media world, Millennials are accustomed to instant feedback and constant communication.  Managers don’t have to change their entire managerial style, but checking in informally and providing feedback as needed vs. in a structured review can strengthen the connection with Millennials.  While with previous generations, when the boss wanted to talk to you it was a bad thing, with this generation when the boss does NOT talk to you, it’s a bad thing.  Millennials also tend to gravitate towards collaborative environments where they are part of a team focused on a goal.  Creating collaborative environments can help Millennials be part of the company’s bigger picture.

Now the fun part.  How Millennial are YOU?  Take this quiz to compare your results against others in your age category: http://www.pewresearch.org/quiz/how-millennial-are-you/.     

Molly Fletcher helps inspire and equip game changers to dream, live and grow fearlessly. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working with elite athletes and coaches as a sports agent, and applies them to the business world. Sign up here to receive our monthly newsletter.