Millennials are defined as those born between 1982 and 1993. It's said that by 2020 millennials will represent 40% of the total working population*. With this in mind, it is in every organisation's interest to attract and engage with this generation.
Engaging millennials is a challenge faced by many leaders, some of whom may feel quite removed from the ways in which this particular, social media driven, generation interacts and communicates.
One of the biggest barriers to engaging with millennials is to view them as “them” as distinct from “us” thus creating an immediate barrier. As we’ve experienced with other generations, while some may fit into a negative stereotype, others are simply looking for work that fulfils them, and for ways in which they can utilise their skills and experience to contribute to a bigger picture.
This is an important point. Research has shown that millennials are motivated by work that allows them to make a difference.* Being a faceless employee who routinely carries out a 9-5 job is not of interest to the typical 20-something year old. Leaders can engage with millennials by speaking to this primary desire.
Engaging with millennials, like any type of good communication, is a two-way street. Being clear about your objectives as an organisation and how you expect those objectives to be met, actively encouraging an engagement in how every employee can and wants to contribute to that will open a dialogue that seeks to meet the needs of both the workforce and its leaders.
And to build on that open dialogue, the type of relationship a millennial employee has with his or her boss is of vital importance. A leader who is viewed as a coach or mentor will typically appeal to someone from the millennial generation (and for that matter most people!), which may require a review of communication and leadership styles.
Are you a leader who is feeling challenged by engaging with millennials? If you have a question for Tania please submit it in the comment box below and we will get back to you asap. Alternatively contact Tania direct on firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Forbes, January 2014
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