“Millennials in the workplace” has become a very hot topic in the business community, and for good reason. In early 2015, the millennial generation (born early 1980’s-1995) surpassed Generation X (born 1965-early 1980’s) as the largest population in the U.S. labor force. The percentage will keep growing. By 2020, this generation will contribute 46% of all individuals in the workforce.
For those of us who are GenXers, or Baby Boomers, we can feel the our work world changing, and let's face it....there is resistance. When the word “millennial” is mentioned in a group of GenXers or Baby Boomers, it is usually met with a collective groan, followed by a story about someone at the office who set up a hammock in the break room, brought a dog to work, or asked for a 30% raise and two additional weeks of vacation on day 12 of employment.
Having managed folks from this generation for over a decade and armed with a few lessons learned, I recently gave a talk about millennials in the workplace, discussing the factors that have shaped millennial perspectives, what this group as a whole wants and needs from work, and what leaders need to do to bring out the best in their millennial talent (which, of course, is of benefit to both the employee and employer).
My four “must do’s” are as follows:
1. PROVIDE CLEAR EXPECTATIONS
2. BE AUTHENTIC AND TRANSPARENT
3. COMMUNICATE REGULARLY AND PROVIDE FEEDBACK
4. FACILITATE AND ENCOURAGE LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT
In the absence of the four "must do's", millennials will not stick around, and a company will not retain its top millennial talent. Period.
The irony is that the four items above are all critical components of strong leadership. In their absence, NO ONE should stick around. We all look to our leadership for these things. Millennials are simply more likely to leave a company because of poor leadership, and they will do it without hesitation.
No matter your age, no matter your perspective, the critical mass of this generation and the attention placed on retention is forcing better leadership: honesty, caring candor, and accountability to their people.
Pervasive strong leadership will make the WORK PLACE a BETTER PLACE. And for that, millennials, I am grateful.