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How to Get the Most Out of Millennial Employees

Business people working in open officeBusiness people working in open office

­­The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question, “How can you help millennials feel like they’re part of the company?” is written by Ian Siegel, co-founder and CEO of ZipRecruiter.

Conversations about millennials, particularly those centered on their alleged sense of entitlement, have normalized the idea that millennials believe they’re owed success and are nothing more than a lazy and petulant generation. I had to stop myself from believing these thoughts after initially encountering some bold, young employees at our company. That is until I remembered why I hired them.

Millennials, in fact, are well-educated, ambitious, flexible, and respond well to challenges. With proper communication and understanding, millennials can become some of our most indispensable assets. It’s when we fail to understand and empower them that problems arise.

Here are two ways you can make the now-largest working demographic feel more welcome at your company:

Practice radical transparency

One thing I’ve learned from my younger employees is that radical transparency about the business can bridge the understanding gap between them and older generations in the workplace. Not only does this transparency engender a stronger connection, but it motivates individuals to pursue the business’s goals.

Once they understand the company’s overall strategy and how they can directly help successfully implement it—in other words, feel like partners rather than just employees—they are more motivated than employees who are told to “just do it” without explanation.

I’ve often had people tell me that the level of specificity of our all-hands meetings helps them better understand our strategy and feel more involved, and the fact that anyone in the company is able to email me with questions reinforces my commitment to transparency.

Welcome them into the fold

Many millennials are saddled with massive student loan debt, but improvements in their situations can also be made at the micro-level, especially in the workplace.

More competitive starting pay, performance-based bonuses, annual raises, and internal promotions are just a few incentives that could really motivate a millennial employee. But don’t misunderstand me: It’s not just about throwing money at people, but rewarding them for their hard work. One of the reasons I meet with each new employee is to not only welcome them to the team, but also find out what drives them to succeed. This way their managers and teams know exactly how to push them to reach their goals.

 

Beyond compensation and title changes, flexibility is another area of extreme importance to millennials. Millennials, like all of us, want a semblance of life/work balance without sacrificing their careers. In fact, 75% of millennials want flexibility that also keeps them on the promotion track. Unlimited vacation time, increased autonomy, and encouragement to work harder and smarter can help accommodate this frame of mind.

Finally, you need to be able to motivate them at all stages of their careers. Chances for early promotion due to strong performance should be available, bonuses should be democratized, and a path for growth should be established for those who demonstrate that they are in it for the long haul.

In all, bridging the relationship between the old and new guard is rooted in strong communication and understanding. Not seeing millennials as “others” and instead integrating them with the organization’s interests can pay off for any business. We should stop bashing this generation, and instead work together with them so that we all benefit.