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How to help millennials shine in the workplace

Lauren Brousell | Feb. 17, 2015
Millennials already make up a large part of the workforce and in 10 years they are expected to represent the majority of workers. In order to uncover this generation's full potential, businesses need to better understand its traits and work styles.

"That's one of the biggest generalizations. Millennials seem to have absorbed this myth about themselves," Larson says. "[They] have a different way of working and it has nothing to do with this notion of being lazy or different."

Larson also points out that millennials may feel underprepared because they aren't getting the proper amount of internship experience, and colleges may not be teaching them basic skills in terms of critical thinking, writing and oral presentations. She suggests that educators roll out career preparatory courses, incorporate more problem-solving into arts and sciences classes, and introduce new tracks that follow the evolving marketplace, such as analytics.

Changing Expectations Can Be an Easy Fix

Millennials want flexible work schedules to achieve a better work-life balance. According to the report, 77 percent of respondents said flexible work hours would increase their productivity, while 39 percent said that working remotely would do the trick.

Businesses should consider millennials' request for flexible schedules so long as their work is completed on time, Larson says. A millennial might leave work at 4 p.m. to play in a rugby match, for example, but that doesn't mean they're checking out for the day, she explains. They'll likely be working well into the evening.

While the viability of a flexible workday varies from business to business, giving employees a break on the rigid 9-5 schedule may be an easy fix to improve your company's organizational culture.

"Companies need to think about the tradeoffs that employees are making by not having a flexible schedule," Davis says. "If you force people to miss out on life events because of a lack of flexibility, then that is taxing. People are more productive when they have a choice."

Though millennials may value a flexible work schedule and the tools that enable the convenience - laptops, smartphones, VPNs and cloud software, for example-they still value face time, according to the report. About half (51 percent) said they prefer talking with colleagues in person, compared to the 19 percent who prefer email and 7 percent who favor online chat.

Davis says millennials should be cognizant of when situations call for face time, and when IMing or emailing is ok. Otherwise, they risk perpetuating the misconception that they're self-absorbed, he says.

Larson says that often this misconception is a product of simply looking for feedback. Millennials "want that communication with each other and with those who are supervising their work. They want the right direction and they want to go to them with big ideas."

In addition to feedback from supervisors, millennials hold high expectations when it comes to pay raises. According to the report, 79 percent believe they are entitled to a yearly salary increase, and 77 percent say they'd actually prefer a raise over a promotion.   "This goes back to the notion of uncertainty in the world," Larson says. "It's not surprising because of the last decade that [millennials] have grown up in."

 

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