Millennials have little patience for organizational silos and want to witness sharing across business units and locations. At the same time, as baby boomers retire in droves, it’s important that their invaluable knowledge doesn’t leave with them. Partnering millennials with baby boomers is very mutually beneficial, with millennials coaching on the technology and boomers coaching on the business. Though some call this “reverse mentoring,” the ideal situation is for every mentorship to be two-way.
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to find enough mentors to take time for regular conversations – but this is where the milllennial’s affinity for technology comes into play. Podcasts or recorded videos are fantastic on-demand sources of advice and knowledge sharing. You might also conduct online roundtables or use online forums where one question and answer can be seen and commented on by many others in the organization.
Already 50% of millennials are in leadership positions, 41% with four or more direct reports – yet 64% of them report feeling unprepared, particularly in terms of dealing with difficult people.
Younger generations can think more creatively in terms of career advancement to not necessarily mean a linear march up the ladder. They want new experiences they can get from job rotations, job shadowing, or transferring laterally.
They also want challenge, so don’t be afraid to provide them stretch assignments for both development and demonstration of potential. Particularly desirable to millennials is international experience. Like Facebook, you may want to let them choose their positions that best suit their strengths as then they are both more invested and more enabled to perform well.
Another difference you’ll see in a millennial’s career is that they network more and network differently. They know the importance of connections and they enjoy building them, so they don’t rely on blind job advertisements. Instead, they maintain relationships with several mentors and sponsors who not only help with development but also put forth their name and fight for them to get an advancement where it fits. As a result, both mentors and mentees are more committed and more likely to get a raise or get promoted.
People born after 1948 believe that work-life balance is expected from a well-run organization, not a perk earned through seniority. Moreover, work-life balance means something different to millennials, something more akin to work-life integration: they want to be themselves at work, sharing personal stories, and they want to be able to work at home, in their own time when it suits them best.
Furthermore, while social responsibility is not new to employers, it is more important than ever because it’s important to millennials. Top employers tend to have programs that will match their employees’ donations, including a dollar value on their volunteer time, up to a certain cap. They may also give paid time off to volunteer. An additional option is to connect employees with skills-based volunteering opportunities, putting their professional abilities to work for a good cause.
In terms of recognition, millennials want it frequently alongside feedback, as they’ve been conditioned to expect it having been raised by baby boomers keen to build their self-esteem and peers keen to post comments and advice instantly on social media. At the same time, empty or undeserved recognition can backfire, as millennials don’t trust the trophy for everyone they grew up receiving. As such, it’s more important than ever to be very clear what impact they have made and to validate them through actions as well as words. And as always, pay attention to how each individual wants to be recognized.
If you have any other thoughts on the millennial employee life cycle, don’t be shy! Post your comments below and start a conversation.
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