8 Ways to Win Over Millennials in the Office

Millennials have a bit of a branding issue.

As those born between 1982 and 2002 entered the workforce, they inspired a number of books about how unmanageable they are. With their ubiquitous smartphones, need for positive reinforcement and increasingly on-demand lifestyle, stories abound about how they are unwilling to cope with the status quo of conventional workplace policies.

Regardless of whether this reputation is deserved, companies are in need of their digital-age skills. Attracting and retaining millennials is important to driving future growth. The shift to an on-demand workforce—which enables individuals to act as independent contractors—is also upping the stakes for talent. In short, corporations are going to have to make adjustments to cater to the employees of the future.

To start, companies must understand engagement is critical. More than three-quarters of employees under the age of 30 say they want their employer to do more around employee engagement—yet only 27 percent say their organizations have an employee engagement policy, according to “The Evolution of Employee Engagement.” And in the most recent Gallup poll, millennials ranked as the least engaged generation currently in the workplace.

Engagement isn’t just a nice-to-have feature in a corporate culture. It is a key differentiator that has been proven to make businesses more successful, competitive and innovative.

Unsurprisingly, 93 percent of the business leaders surveyed for the recent HCI Research report on employee engagement agreed that high employee engagement is critical to business success. Several studies report that engaged employees work harder, take fewer sick days, and are less likely to leave their job, while others show that companies where employees feel highly engaged are more profitable and have a higher growth rates than their lesser engaging competitors.

The benefits of engagement may be clear, but companies can only reap those benefits by creating a culture where employees feel passionate about their work and connected to the people they work with. Fortunately, there are many tools and strategies companies can use to build a more inviting workplace.

Eight great ways to engage your team

  1. Name an engagement leader. If companies want engagement to be viewed as a business priority by their leadership team, then they need to treat it that way. That means putting someone in charge of engagement efforts, giving them the resources to measure and manage those efforts, and letting the company know that these investments are a vital component of the overall business strategy.
  2. Survey employees. There is no better way to show that a company cares about engagement than to actually ask employees what they think. Consider using internal social media platforms to ask periodic questions or monthly pulse surveys to get a real-time sense of the atmosphere. In addition to ad hoc questionnaires, companies should utilize more formal annual survey tools with benchmarked questions and analytics that can be tracked over time. Note: Firms need to ensure they ask questions that will generate actionable data – i.e. “does your manager inspire you?” and “do you have the tools to do your job effectively?” along with more general satisfaction ratings.
  3. Communicate results. Regardless of survey format, share the results (good or bad) via internal social media, company blogs, and other in-house communication channels. Look at it as an opportunity to celebrate successes, and let employees know how you intend to fix what’s failing.
  4. Provide the right tools. Whether it’s support for BYOD/BYOA (bring your own app), analytics to track preferences, or communications technologies that foster timely and immersive interactions, this generation expects instantaneous response through a variety of channels like text, video, voice and instant messaging. What’s more, thanks to a variety of consumer video communication tools on the market today, millennials are more accustomed to video calls than their generational predecessors. Ultimately millennials are looking for choice in how they communicate, which often starts with mobile and includes a specific set of apps that enable them to publish and get feedback in real time.
  5. Train managers to be effective leaders. Bad managers will drive the best employees away. If companies want millennials to stay put, make sure managers have the training and support they need to lead employees effectively, deliver constructive feedback, and make their team feel valued. The Evolution of Employee Engagement survey shows 89 percent of “very engaged” employees believe their superiors care about them—compared to just 28 percent of employees who consider themselves unengaged.
  6. Celebrate your team. Recognizing successes, even in small ways, is a great way to let employees know the organization values their contribution. Along with implementing formal monthly or quarterly recognition awards, encourage managers and staff to acknowledge their teams in company meetings, via social media, and in day-to-day conversations to drive a culture of acknowledgement. Remember, positive recognition can be a powerful motivator in the quest for a more engaged workforce.
  7. Promote interaction. Millennials want to feel special, and no one is better positioned to make them feel that way than company leadership. Executives can show they care by sponsoring weekly lunches or outings, dropping by employees’ offices to say hello, or hosting live online forums where employees can ask questions and learn about the company’s vision. When the leadership team takes time to talk with their staff it boosts morale, builds transparency, and creates new avenues of communication.
  8. Ask for their ideas. Employees who are encouraged to contribute ideas feel a sense of ownership in the business and their work. In exchange, leaders will benefit from a fresh young perspective that will help them position the company for the future.

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Generation Z: The 6 Big Ways Today’s Teenagers Will Impact Your Company by 2020

How well do you understand Generation Z? If you work for the average business, the answer is probably “not very well.”

Today’s teenagers are fundamentally different than the Millennials who came before them, and understanding Generation Z is important as this group increasingly enters the workforce.

Millennials (born between 1980 and 1999) were the first generation to discover and embrace personal technology. Most remember learning to type on electronic typewriters, saving homework on floppy disks and playing early video game consoles, getting their first computer, exploring the Internet, PDAs, laptops, cell phones, P2P file-sharing, reading their first blog, receiving their first friend request and flubbing social media faux pas. They can pinpoint their first smartphone, first selfie, and the first time they swiped right.

For Generation Z, born after 1999, these milestones are passé. Today’s 15-year-old doesn’t know a world without the Internet, a reality that has major implications for business. Here are six major trends to plan for:

No. 6: Product quality above all else: Today’s teen is marked by a distinct lack of brand loyalty. Born with the sum of all human knowledge in their pocket, they’re on the hunt for quality as decided by the crowd. Fundamentally, brand loyalty means hesitation to try competing products—a constraint that Internet-connected teens don’t feel. For businesses, that means traditional marketing will take a back seat to actual quality.

No. 5: Focus on online reviews: In nearly every consumer product category, today’s teenagers prefer online to offline shopping. It’s no wonder — teens read online reviews, watch video walkthroughs and compare prices with ease. For businesses, that means engaging in the product conversations currently happening online in an authentic way. 

No. 4: Generation Z wants to fix it themselves: 92 percent of teenagers report being online every day, with roughly 1 in 4 saying they’re online “nearly constantly.” Teenagers who have problems with a product will start online first, searching to see if anyone else has experienced the same issue. For businesses, that means launching self-service support tools to own those online answers—rather than leaving them up to the crowd. 

No. 3: They don’t want to call your (800) number: Waiting on hold for the next customer service rep is a foreign concept to today’s teenager, who would rather use virtually any other digital tool than the telephone to get their question answered. Those tools include knowledge databases, automated/live chat, video-based support, email, SMS and social media. For businesses, that means meeting consumers on the channel of their choice.

No. 2: They want their own devices and apps: By the time the oldest members of Generation Z land their first office job, they’ll (literally) have a lifetime of experience using their favorite consumer apps and personal devices. If Millennials are any indication, Generation Z will expect to use the best software and devices to get their job done. Bring-your-own-everything represents a two-part challenge for businesses: Securing corporate data on a range of apps and devices, and making sure data can flow easily between competing apps. 

No. 1: They might not want to work for you: Early indications show today’s teens are the most entrepreneurial generation in history, with 72 percent of high schoolers saying they’d like to start their own business someday. 76 percent say they’d like to turn their hobbies into fulltime jobs (compared to just 50 percent of Millennials who say the same). For the companies of today, that means thinking about how to plan for the coming wave of micro-sized businesses.

These six digital trends shouldn’t be a surprise: Millennials have been pushing businesses to respond to them for the past decade. The difference, perhaps, is that Generation Z is less forgiving about technology—for them, it’s a utility, not a novelty.

The fundamentals of good business remain unchanged: Produce high-quality products and services, find consumers who will advocate for your business, provide customer service on the channel of the customer’s choice, and plan for the tools of the future. The companies that win over Generation Z will be the ones that execute consistently on those fundamentals.