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November 7, 2013

The Millennials Are Coming – Are You Ready?

Filed under: Performance Management9:11 am

According to last month’s HR Magazine, Millennials will make up 75% of the US labor force by the year 2025.  With that in mind, it is crucial that HR has an understanding of what drives this generation.

To understand motivation, it is important to know where this generation is coming from.  First and foremost, this is the generation raised with personal computers.  Technology has always been the preferred way to get work done, solve life’s problems, and connect with people.  This group of workers favors collaboration in teams and is the most connected virtually. However, they have also been the most overprotected – growing up in an “over-adult-supervised” environment.  Parents effectively convinced this generation that they were the center of the universe.  In addition, they received trophies just for showing up.

The Millennials are coming to a cubicle near you and there is little to be done to stem the tide.  How can your organization be prepared for and even embrace this growing population in your workforce?  Ideally, you want to be proactive in adjusting your “policies, practices and procedures to leverage this generations strengths and minimize its weaknesses.”

The article focuses on 3 key areas:

FLEXIBILITY:  Millennials want flexibility in everything: schedules, locations, and assignments.  They place less importance on where the work is done and what time the work occurs.  They also like variety in their assignments.  The desire for diverse work experiences can be perceived as wanting to move up, when it is often simply a need to do something different.

TRANSPARENCY:  This group wants to know the why behind the decisions.  They will ask more direct questions and will require greater transparency from the organization.  When transparency makes sense, do it.  When it doesn’t, be prepared to explain why.

COMMUNITY:  Millennials expect work to be social and fun.  They like to collaborate and they do their best work in teams. Examine not only your business processes, but your space.  Look for ways to encourage employees to gather and collaborate.  The article suggests gathering spaces in your work area as well as group onboarding to create camaraderie and loyalty among the new hires.

Examine your business practices and determine how these changes fit into your business model and align with your strategic plan.  The point is not to cater to one particular generation, but to recognize and find ways all may benefit by these updated policies.  As the article says, “Focus less on the characteristics society has ascribed to the emerging Millennial generation and more on policies and practices that support the changing demands being placed on our workforce.”

SOURCE: HR Magazine, October 2013 Issue, “New Kids on the Block,” article by Kathryn Tyler.

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