by Mikalee Byerman
Think “Millennials,” and chances are, a variety of stereotypes quickly come into crystal-clear focus: Killing long-established industries; obsessed with craft cocktails and beanies; shirking tradition; always focused on Snapchat or Reddit or whatever the platform du jour happens to be.
Sound familiar? If so, perhaps it’s time to think of the stereotype from the opposite perspective: What are the positive facets of the Millennial mindset that we can apply to modern workplace culture? As it turns out, workplaces can learn a legit TON from the group known as the Next Great Generation.
Here are some ideas about how employers can channel Millennial proclivities to improve their workplace culture as well as attract the most sought-after talent—whatever their age may be.
- Embrace flexibility SO HARD.
The research: Research from Intelligence Group indicates 74 percent of Millennials want flexible work schedules. How this applies to employers: The tech-centric Millennial lifestyle makes them view traditional time-card punching, cubicle-dwelling work arrangements as outdated. Companies may want to create a hybrid work environment, where specific time is spent together in a bricks-and-mortar office while other work is remotely accomplished. Or create a completely remote work environment like the Estipona Group did, which allows team members to connect in meaningful ways through technology. An obvious bonus: the ability to wear casual—yet appropriate—attire. Do unicorn slippers count? Asking for a friend.
- Channel employee wanderlust.
The research: According to Millennial Travel Trends, 75 percent of Millennials wish to travel as much as possible.
How this applies to employers: The Millennial generation is known for valuing vacation time—yet paradoxically, research suggests they often don’t take it—so a culture where vacation is embraced (and those using it are not vacation-shamed) is optimal. Also, leadership may want to consider encouraging team members to go to conferences to stay connected to new technologies and trends. This provides a one-two punch of travel combined with opportunities for enhanced knowledge.
- Encourage differences of opinion (but not in a Fight Club kinda way).
The research: Deloitte research suggests that 86 percent of Millennials feel that differences of opinion allow teams to excel.
How this applies to employers: Traditional hierarchy is an outdated concept, as is the idea that only those with “VP” or “director” in their titles have the answers to the problems facing companies—resulting in increasingly lateral organizational structures where knowledge is spread across the company. When hierarchies are flattened, better collaboration often results, which may also invite differences of opinion. But creating a healthy dialogue—one that includes an occasional disagreement—is often the way to get to the most creative solutions.
- Be the change you want to see in the (employment) world.
The research: According to Jeff Boss, author of “Navigating Chaos: How to Find Certainty in Uncertain Situations,” many Millennials entered the workforce at the downturn of the economy just prior to its 2008 collapse. This means they learned to expect change—“they learned to anticipate working in chaos but more so, they learned to problem-solve for solutions.”
How this applies to employers: Clearly technology is changing the employment landscape, but companies can use innovative processes and procedures in order to try something new and different and see if it works. Ask your younger team members to help brainstorm creative solutions that might just upend the status quo, and see what happens. (Pro tip: Make sure you remain open to their out-of-the-box ideas, lest you quash their creative spirit forever.)
- The ‘almighty dollar’ has been dethroned; connection is now king.
The research: A 2011 McCann Worldgroup surveyof 1,000 Millennials revealed that more than 90 percent of those surveyed cited connection and community as their greatest need.
How this applies to employers: Millennials are known for believing at their core that money isn’t everything—and perhaps that applies to your entire company as well. Consider that community involvement, awards, prestige, title, increased responsibilities, etc. may be far better motivators than a paycheck.
Regardless of the age of your workforce, your goal is to attract top talent. These strategies may inspire the kind of change that elevates your workplace culture—thanks to inspiration from those oft-stereotyped Millennials. (What is the deal with those beanies, anyhow?)
Mikalee Byerman is VP of Strategy for the Estipona Group which has a 25-year history as a marketing/communications agency. Since 2008, it has operated under a virtual model, with all employees working remotely from home offices, collaborative workspaces and any public place with free Wi-Fi (and preferably caffeine and/or dark chocolate). Visit estiponagroup.com or call 775-786-4445.