Finding new ways of engaging Millennials is on the minds of many American businesses, and with good reason. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2030.
People generally agree that Millennials were born after 1980, but there’s a lot of disagreement about when the generation ends (cutoffs range from 1993 to present day). What is clear is that Millennials are very unwilling to be put in a box. While there are certain characteristics that mark this generation, they are perhaps most noted for their diversity. In fact, Millennials are by far the most racially diverse generation in America’s history. In 1980, 78% of 15-34 year-olds were white (non-Hispanic), and in 2012 that figure dropped to 58%.
Millennials are also marked by the fact that they came of age in the time of computers and the Internet. They never wrote papers on typewriters, and they have a firm grasp of current technologies.
Many Millennials also had the crushing burden of entering the job market during the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. They are much less likely to marry young (or at all) than previous generations, and they’re less likely to have children.
When it comes to the workplace, all of these characteristics should be taken into account, but not used to make sweeping generalizations about Millennial workers. If your focus is on improving workplace productivity, the first challenge is to learn the unique goals and interests of your particular workers.
Through the use of individual assessments, you are likely to find that your Millennial employees are less motivated by purely fiscal or title-based goals and more interested in doing work that they are passionate about and which they feel makes a positive impact upon the world. This isn’t necessarily different than older generations, but you may find that Millennial employees are more willing to make big changes and forfeit higher paying career tracks in order to achieve their personal goals. Work/life balance tends to be a top priority amongst Millennials.
So if you’re hoping to improve Millennials productivity in your workplace, talk to them. Find out what their unique goals and interests are. Use assessments to get a sense of what drives these highly individualistic people. And don’t expect the motivations for one Millennial to be anything like the motivations for the next. This can make it tough to make overarching changes to your culture, but as a general rule of thumb, aim for flexibility, balance, and transparency.