Skip to Content

Your Company Is Clueless About What Millennials Really Want

Office Worker HidingOffice Worker Hiding

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 Vicky Oliver, a career development expert and author of 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions.

The corporate world has pigeonholed millennials more than any other generation of workers, They’ve been singled out as upwardly mobile and anxious to take on more responsibility more quickly. But millennials aren’t a one-size-fits-all group. I’ve met many of these young hires, and their personality types and work styles run the gamut.

Just as with their Generation X and baby boomer predecessors, millennials are keenly aware of what they don’t know, and desperate to find a trusted veteran to give some guidance. By rolling out the welcome mat and embracing this talented generation, companies will improve their teams and add new vitality to the office environment.

So how can employers make their companies more hospitable to millennials? Consider these options:

Create intergenerational teams

Older workers possess the in-depth industry knowledge and years of company experience that younger employees lack. Meanwhile, the new generation is more facile with technology. Letting the long-timers provide the valuable industry insight and the new recruits share their skills can make the entire team more efficient and respectful of each other’s talents.

For example, when making a client pitch, members of the old guard would do well to add millennials to their group—the younger members can put sparkle on the visual presentation and address any digital considerations, while the older members can speak to services and strategies.

Assign extra credit

As millennials are often new hires and low on the corporate ladder, they may be saddled with more than their share of boring assignments that fall below their skill levels. Once they prove that they’re proficient with their work, assign them one of the to-dos that’s been sitting on your desk. You may as well direct that pent-up energy toward a task you’ve been putting off, and at the same time show your employee that you believe they’re up to the challenge.

Offer unlimited vacation

Millennials bring expectations of a more civilized work-life balance to the labor force. They, and frankly, most skilled workers, tend to balk at the traditional two-weeks vacation “benefit” offered to new hires of yore. Now, employers are luring young talent with unlimited vacation as an acknowledgement that it’s important for employees to feel their best to perform their best. Employers bank on having hired the right people who won’t abuse the policy.

 

Ask for their feedback

Give the new members of the department a chance to critique the team’s performance. While they may be in the process of training on office protocols and production, their fresh perspective may offer a better approach to some tired old processes. Take note, however, that modeling giving constructive feedback in a diplomatic manner may be needed to soften the tone.

Another option is to have the team give 360-degree feedback. For example, in a marketing campaign, a millennial may be critical about overlooking different digital platforms for getting a message out. But the veterans may counter with opposite criticism: that spreading resources too widely is less productive than a targeted approach.

Loosen the reins

The concept of clocking in and out each day has Big Brother overtones and is thankfully going the way of plastic tray inboxes. An open policy that allows personnel to track their own work hours—and even work remotely when possible—signifies trust, which engenders responsibility. Fostering a culture of trust in employees to do the right thing for the company without having to check with the boss at every turn promotes an office environment that workers across generations can appreciate.