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How to work with millennials

Bonnie Gardiner | March 27, 2015
Millennials – they're disobedient, they ask too many questions and I can't relate to them. Does this sound like you? If so, it's high time you made working with this fearless, tech-savvy age group a top priority, because if they're not working with you, they're with your competitors, and you're going to lose valuable competitive advantage.

"The two standout contributions we see consistently from millennials on our team is an incredible amount of tech savvy and a change-focused work ethic ... this familiarity and ease of integrating technology into everyday life has been very valuable in our product and technical thinking," she says.

"Most [millennials] have begun work in the change economy where adaptability to change wasn't something they had to learn five or even 10 years into their careers, it was a requirement for most in their first role."

The everyday approach to technology combined with this malleable nature allows millennials to work within agile frameworks with ease, according to Ferguson.

"We see them fall forward without concern or ego and we see them thinking about change as a tool to propel our business forward rather than hold us back."

Achieving the right culture

Culture changes come from the top, so working with millennials means taking on an appropriate management style, while being selective about what personalities will fit your specific working environment.

"We have tried to recruit based more on personality traits and communication skills versus raw technical results so I think we have really benefitted from that mix," says Doughty.

Taking the time to find out what motivates them will pay off in spades, according to Gray, because the reality is for millennials it's not just about joining a company, or having a more traditional career, it has to be a good fit.

"It's more about work life integration, like this isn't just my job it's who I am," says Gray. "There has to be an affinity between the candidate and the business you're putting them into."

Good communication is also paramount to keep the culture open and considerate of individual needs.

Millennials want to feel heard and valued when it comes to working conditions and decision-making, and if they're unhappy about something they will have no qualm about vocalising this discontentment inside the office or outside the walls.

"Listen to your employees, ask them what they would like to do, how they would like to achieve outcomes and success. Then adapt, change and modify based on that feedback," says Ferguson.

If for some reason you cannot act on the feedback at the time, it helps to at least have asked and take their feedback on, or try to action something small off the back of employee suggestions.

"Explain to them why it's not something you can look at now but you can definitely take on board and think about it and maybe revisit it next quarter," says Gray.

"As long as you're listening and they feel like they have a voice, it's less likely to escalate to the point where that voice is negative and could actually have a detrimental effect on your culture."

 

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