Look around your office. Chance are there are more than a few millennials.
No longer a generation of tech-driven teens, today’s millennials are digital-savvy adults in their twenties through mid-thirties, with many of them working as experienced professionals with families of their own to support. And at 75.4 million strong, the millennial generation, Pew reports, is set to hit its prime in 2036 at 81.1 million people. Millennials will represent nearly 75 percent of the workforce by 2030, according to Forbes.
With a marked number of millennials in the workforce and more on the way, tapping into the generation’s work habits and preferences can maximize individual talent and potentially boost company profitability. After all, while some work practices are personal, many millennials, including me, share common work ethics and styles.
It’s hardly a stretch to say that everyone likes to feel empowered, including millennial employees. When possible, giving us the flexibility and autonomy to deal with assigned tasks provides us with a sense of ownership of the job at hand and promotes creative problem-solving. That’s not to say millennials should not be given direction and set on the right path, but many of us like having the space to find our own way of working through an assignment alongside coaching from our senior management, even if it’s outside the traditional 9-to-5 workday.
Unlike people who champion conventional thought, we tend to be freethinkers and like having the time and space to work in our preferred element, whether that’s during the morning’s early hours, late in the evening or from home.
Unfortunately, for many companies, when it comes to entry-level jobs, supporting independent work styles is unlikely. But encouraging and teaching millennials how to develop their talents at work keeps the energy flowing and often brings about the employees’ best performances.
Senior management that takes an approach of, here’s the task, here’s the deadline, take the time and space you need to get the job done, use their millennial employees to their best advantage. Let us be unique in our approach. Listen to our ideas on how to complete a job. If you don’t agree, coach us and guide us to make our methods better. After all, we look up to senior executives as those who can help us achieve our future successful selves.
Feedback and tech talk
While I and many of my millennial counterparts thrive in a flexible work environment, most of us also appreciate regular feedback from our bosses or managers to know where we’re excelling and how to improve in areas where we’re falling short. One-on-one interactions are especially helpful, whether they’re in person, by phone or through text messages. In addition, let us know what opportunities we can look forward to in order to further our careers. We are more likely to continue at the current workplace if we know you are investing time and energy to help us build our career paths and move forward.
My generation is fueled by social media and instant messaging. Having the opportunity to instantly message higher-ups for guidance helps move work along, as does knowing that a senior manager is available to answer questions or provide further direction on a task, if needed. Furthermore, companies can leverage our social media savvy for their business’ social media campaigns. Most of us are whizzes at updating blogs, uploading videos, assisting with staff and management LinkedIn and other social media accounts, creating relevant posts and keeping up on the newest tech innovations.
Of course, millennials’ affinity for hyperconnectivity also can be a distraction, but when used to advance a job and business, having the ability to keep connected is key.
Working with others
For those projects that require a team tactic, look to your company’s millennials. My generation enjoys group dynamics, especially with other young professionals. Working alongside each other fosters camaraderie, gives us a chance to learn from one another and sustains energy. It also adds to our everyday experiences, something that nearly all millennials desire.
Turn to us as well for networking opportunities. Most of us enjoy getting to know other millennials through business networking events and social gatherings. We look forward to sharing ideas with like-minded individuals as well as with people with different mindsets. Getting out and associating with others challenges us to put ourselves out there past our comfort zones and builds on our one-on-one interactions.
That’s good for business, and not only for in-house jobs. Companies that connect with millennials heighten the likelihood of widening the business’ following, potentially increasing the bottom line.
At my office, for instance, understanding the younger generation’s views on finances, savings and investing helps us tailor suitable products for them. But being able to have a trusted adviser of the same generation talk directly with millennial clients or potential clients about their financial needs is more powerful because of their heightened ability to relate with each other through a shared perspective.
Making the most of millennial employees isn’t much different from supporting any other worker in a firm. When done right, young professionals can elevate businesses with their individual skillsets and forward-thinking viewpoints.
Nilshika Weerasinghe is a wealth management assistant at Tompkins Financial Advisors in White Plains, where she was a founding member of the firm’s young professionals group. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 914-461-0375, ext. 33035.