By Andy Jankowski, Founder, Enterprise Strategies
Millennials, sometimes known as “Generation Me”, are cited in an endless amount of sources as an object a company has no choice but to obtain and then provide for a seemingly endless set of additional accommodations. Buzzwords and concepts such as flextime or BYOD flood articles, posts, and videos, creating hype. However- ultimately one thing remains important- Millennials are humans. They are employers and employees. They have families, friends, dependents, and commitments. They are not a source of fear, an object of acquisition, or an alien species.
Growing up in a world of constant connection, immediate information, and the encouragement for endless education, to Millennials thirst for experience is innate. In every segment of their existence Millennials are finding, creating, and sharing experiences from their lives. These differences shouldn’t inflict panic or a need to revolutionize; Millennials are just people- undergoing the same life events as anyone else. The major difference occurs in the professional-sphere. When Millennial principles are applied to the workplace, having a career is seen not only as an inevitable part of life, but as just another experience. Careers are given equal value to having a family, becoming passionate about a hobby, or seeing the world. Concepts of time, socialization, feedback, and pride are all themes Millennials believe should be integrated into the workplace.
Time as an experience
Life is for living, a phrase taken to heart by Generation Y. The incessant tick of the clock is a permanent reminder that life doesn’t last forever. In an age where infinite information resides in a handheld device, social media gives alerts when friends encounter something new, and the activities of others are transparent to the world, Millennials are left with a constant thirst and desire to share the same experiences. The more exposure to the world, the more Millennials feel the need to spend time immersed in all it has to offer. The idea is ingrained that, it is in fact, possible to have it all. Rather than money, numerous sources of information(1) cite that millennials find time most valuable. The premise of “flextime” (highlighted in following posts) is increasingly becoming a benefit, and occasionally deal-breaker, for millennials to choose a career.
Socialization as an experience
Generation Y will forever be defined as the first digital natives, the first users of social media, and most socially-connected of all existing age groups. Interaction is key- for Millennials value personalization in everything they do, consume, or advocate. Don’t assume it is all technological, for Millennials carry social nature into the office. The ability to communicate at all levels, collaborate with coworkers, and develop meaningful relationships with those they work with are becoming necessities.
Feedback as an experience
“Instant” is a common descriptor used in conversation about the Millennial generation. Throughout their education, feedback from teachers or professors was incessant, their posts on social media receive constant responses, and they obsessively track things like sleep and fitness through wearable devices. Technology provides instant information or entertainment, naturally creating an expectation in all areas of life. Critics (2) state that Millennials expect constant feedback, but some also negatively believe that they also expect instant success or advancement. Yes, Millennials expect constant feedback. It is an innate part of their socialization. Millennials do not expect instant success or advancement. What they do expect, however, is the promise of a successful experience. That promise is the ignition and fuel that inspires Millennials to focus their time and attention. Employers should view the request for constant feedback as an opportunity to shape successful experiences and together make (business) results happen.
Pride as an experience
Never before has a personal brand been so important. Time is constantly spent improving a personal image through online social mediums, enhanced with unique life experiences. Because a career occupies the majority of a Millennial’s personal brand, working for a company they can take pride in is of utmost importance. Growing up in a time of terrorism, war, and economic distress, Millennials put significant emphasis in corporate initiatives that “give back” and “do good”. Meaningful social experiences are built when coworkers volunteer together. These social experiences are the glue that binds Millennial employees to each other and to a company of which they are proud to be apart. Millennial customers advocate companies on social media when they take part in a philanthropy. It is all one upward spiral, with a common theme shared experience, doing good, and contributing to a business and life to be believed in.
Your company as an experience
Many companies interested in attracting and retaining Millennials are running into a hard reality, “They don’t want to work for us.” The preceding paragraphs are a small glimpse into the Millennial mindset, but even still start to paint a pretty clear picture as to why this disconnect exists. What can we as potential employers do to embrace the concepts of time, socialization, feedback, and pride as “experiences”? What other workplace attributes are important to this new generation? And, how do we bring this all together to start to shift our companies to workplaces suitable for this generation and the generations before them. These items, and your specific questions, will be the focus of the rest of my posts on this topic leading up to PIVOT 2014. Here’s to an enlightening shared experience.
Learn more about Andy Jankowski, Founder, Enterprise Strategies. Visit http://www.enterprisestrategies.com/
©2015, The Tomorrow Project, LLC