Do a Google search for “workforce defined as the millennial generation (born 1980 to 2000)” and you will find conflicting reports on their collective success.  Some employers see them as lazy, entitled and uncommitted; others report that they are creative, passionate and flexible. You will also find many articles by millennials talking about what makes them tick and how to create an environment where they will be great loyal team members.

There are a few realities about millennials that employers must face:

  1. They are the next generation workforce and need to be embraced.
  2. They work differently than the generation before them, but that doesn’t mean they work less.
  3. They have very different motivations and motivators.
  4. They don’t text/post/like just for fun. It is their worldview.

Work Life Balance – The Big Millennial Lesson

Time There are many things millennials can teach us.  Things that will make their work experience better and, honestly, our own work experience better.  The foremost lesson is this:

We need to have . . .

We can have better work-life balance.

Many of us “graying” Americans (And I’m including 40 something’s like myself) have a distorted view of what work-life balance means.  My definition of a typical workday is working a 10-12 hours, with no time for a lunch break and experiencing a feeling of dread when I finally force myself to leave the office, because there’s so much more work to be done. 

When we finally return home after a long day, we stay connected via some type of electronic device.  We can’t shut down, we can’t NOT be available for that important email!

Now enter the typical millennial.  They’re connected all the time; but just as often to family and friends as to their job.   They feel much less constrained by ‘normal’ work hours, as they’re focused more on getting the job done, not logging face-time with the boss.  Of course, these are huge generalizations of a wide range of people, but I suspect that, as a society, our young “me-generation” will help many of us find a healthier balance between working hard and enjoying life!

Flexibility and Engagement is Everything

I recently had a conversation with Norm Couturier, Chief Product Strategist for iTacit, a Senior Housing Forum Partner, about how they are helping senior living providers more effectively engage Millennials. 

“We see it as more than just engaging millenials; it’s really about providing each employee with tools to work in the way they work best,” explained Norm.  “Some people like coming to their worksite to do training; others would prefer to do it from home.  Some employees want to interact with co-workers via message boards – similar to social media, where others are more comfortable reading a posted memo.”  The way iTacit helps with this is  to provide a cloud-based software for a wide range of workplace needs in senior living – from recruiting and onboarding to compliance and employee engagement. 

Success with millenials in the workplace is about understanding their work ethic and capitalizing on it. Most millenials never think to use their smartphone simply as a phone; they text or post messages.  So why not create an on-line community where team members can develop, maintain and grow relationships with each other?  Millenials like flexibility in their work schedule.  So why not let them log-in remotely for training or company communication when it works for both the employee and your organization?    

We consistently hear that technology is changing the way we work.  We all know this is true.  Millenials are living proof.   The best way to engage this next generation of workers is to embrace them and the connected way they interact with the world.

What are you doing to fully engage your millennials?