Generation Y, Gen Next, Millennials — the generation born between 1980 and 1995 goes by a lot of names. This age group also happens to account for a significant portion of the overall workforce. In fact, research found on UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School website states that “Millennials made up 34 percent of the U.S. workforce in 2014, and that number will grow to 46 percent by 2020.”
Accordingly, it should be the goal of small business owners to properly integrate millennials into the workplace by utilizing some effective strategies.
Create a Collaborative Environment
The majority of younger workers tend to thrive in a workplace where each member actively participates and works toward achieving a common goal. Information from Forbes’ website even found that “88 percent of millennials prefer a collaborative work culture rather than a competitive one.”
You can usually set these individuals up for success by creating an atmosphere where creativity and brainstorming are encouraged. This kind of environment can be key for cultivating breakthrough ideas and can help extract the maximum potential from your millennial employees.
Integrate Millennials With Flexible Work Arrangements
The days of the standard 9 to 5, 40 hour work week that baby boomers were accustomed to might arguably be a relic of the past. Many millenials are disillusioned with the formula that served their parents so well. Instead, they value flexibility. In fact, Forbes’ website states that “74 percent of millennials want flexible work schedules.”
Here are some examples of flexible work arrangements:
- Allow workers to swap shifts
- Allow them to decide when to take breaks
- Allow telecommuting for certain tasks
- Offer compressed workweeks (e.g. an employee can work 10 hour days four days a week rather than eight hour days five days a week)
Allow for Work-Life Balance
Although millennials value their jobs, they don’t want their jobs to dominate their lives to the point that it negatively impacts other areas. Most want to have ample downtime away from the workplace where they can spend time with family and friends, travel and pursue other interests. If it becomes clear that their job is getting in the way, they may seek other opportunities, which can hurt your retention rate.
Some ways to create a healthier work-life balance for employees include:
- Offering paid time off in lieu of paid personal days and sick leave
- Allowing for part-time hours for those who desire them
- Allowing unpaid leave for emergencies and major life events
Act More as a Coach Rather Than a Boss
Most millennials don’t like someone watching their every move and breathing down their neck. It inhibits the creative process and creates unnecessary stress. Because they tend to be largely individualistic, millennials don’t usually respond well to the stereotypical boss-subordinate relationship that baby boomers lived by.
Instead, they typically thrive when employers act more as a coach or mentor. It’s better to view millennials as autonomous workers and simply guide them along rather than being dictatorial and overly controlling.
To integrate millennials into your small business, it requires a considerably different approach than you would take with baby boomers or Gen Xers. By understanding their mindset and values, you can help them gel with the rest of your workforce and put them in a position to thrive.