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What Your Millennial and Gen Z Employees Need From You Right Now

For the younger generations, Millennials and Gen Z, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will be particularly profound. For some of them, too young to feel the full weight of other recent, life-changing events like 9-11 and the 2008 market and jobs crash, this pandemic is their first exposure to real hardship. And, the most profound hardship most of us for any generation have experienced; it’s taking away the in-person human connection that is our primary source for safety and belonging. For other generations, the effects of the last recession, 9/11, wars, swine flu, still haven’t faded away.

As the employer and future employer, to the next leaders of our world and your workforce, you must truly understand this younger generation’s experience. And what they need from you in the workplace or the marketplace. They currently account for 38% of the workforce and by the end of the decade, 58% of employees will be either a Millennial or a Gen Z. If you and your business want to continue to survive and thrive in the new world of work, it’s not an option to ignore the needs of the younger generations and the effects the pandemic is having on them. You must meet them where they are and give them what they want in order to build your high-performance team and extend their reach to connecting with your clients. These generations actually account for 3 trillion dollars worth of annual spending!

Really, what Millennials or Gen Z employees want from their employers is no different than what any of us want. They just tend to be more vocal about it and more insistent that they get the support they’re seeking. This is one reason I love working with young people – they are absolutely determined to make it a better world and they’re not shy about going after it.

To help your Millennial and Gen Zs learn to be resilient from all the change we’ve had over the past few months and thrive, focus on these simple things:

 

Help Them Feel Safe

This is a big one and we covered it in our last blog. People need to feel safe at work. Physically safe (make sure they know the steps you’re taking to protect them from the virus), but also emotionally and psychologically safe. They need to know the workplace is a safe place to speak up, to tell it like it is, and to call out toxic or damaging behaviors. The depth and spread of the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements have shown how much the younger generations value creating spaces of inclusivity, equality, and safety. As I tell all of my clients, listen and listen like a trampoline, meaning bounce back with even better questions.

 

Help Them Feel Like They Belong

We all want to feel like we’re part of something that matters and again, Millennials and Gen Zs are no different. They place a high value on finding workplaces that allow them to do work that is meaningful. And it’s up to you to make sure they can clearly see how their work has meaning and how it’s contributing to your overall organizational goals. If you need help, we’re here. We’ve helped hundreds of organizations and teams solve the crisis of disengagement by helping connect team members to their personal and professional purposes (their why) threaded to your corporate missions through our flagship online program, Strengths & Story.

 

Provide Access to Mentoring and Coaching Opportunities

Though COVID-19 has done away with a lot of our traditional ways of providing professional development through the method of sending our people off to workshops and conferences, the younger generations were craving something different even before the pandemic. In a recent blog, we discussed how today’s young workers want the freedom and flexibility to seek out their own mentors and coaches, to learn on demand and in the way that suits them, sometimes even informally. They also need to take ownership in their mentoring relationships. With our teams working remotely and feeling isolated, helping your young people access new mentoring and coaching opportunities and techniques is critical.

To help, we recently launched our online portal, Hooga, to provide a virtual and on-demand coaching options for your people to learn the principles of our Strengths & Story workshops. Reach out to us to find out how you can get access!

 

Show Them How to Build Resilience

With all the uncertainty and stress that’s invaded our lives recently, one of the most important things Millennial and Gen Z employees need from you is to learn how to build and cultivate their own resilience. Sometimes called “grit” but even deeper, a person’s resilience is simply a measure of their ability to bounce back quickly when things get tough. And things have never been tougher for our workers than the challenges of COVID-19.

We have a 3-step system you can use to help them build better resilience. Click here to check it out now.

 

Reskill Them on Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is key for success in the future world of work. And with so much stress, anxiety, and uncertainty, people need people. We need to feel connected to each other and that we have strong relationships, whether it’s with our bosses, coworkers, clients, or friends and family. Make sure your younger employees are equipped with the skills they need to up their game when it comes to their own Emotional Intelligence. Learn how to reskill them and coach them on Emotional Intelligence here.

 

Your Millennial and Gen Z employees need you to step up and help them in the wake of COVID-19. Start here with these five ideas. If you need help implementing any of the above strategies or would like a personalized recommendation for your team, reach out to us to learn how we can support you to success.

The 4 Top Solutions for Retaining Millennial Employees: Teach, Learn, Listen, and Guide

As a coach of CEOs and business leaders on how to retain Millennial talent, I am often presented with the same problem: in a desperate attempt to appeal to their Millennial staff, business owners buy Ping Pong tables, kegs of craft beer for the office kitchen, free food, or setup an Xbox in their office common area.

And low and behold their Millennial staff continue to walk out on them, but why?.  

Senior or seasoned staff see this generation of 20-30 somethings as being vastly different than any generation that came before them. They complain of Millennial’s need to be taught industry skills, their laziness, their incessant attempts to have their ideas heard, their utopian ideas about work life balance and their peculiar craving for a sense of professional progression.  

Nonetheless, the great Millennial secret is that they are more similar to every other generation of young and ambitious people throughout history.    

Universally, what Millennials want is to be taught what they don’t know so they can grow and progress. They want the chance to teach others to help improve those around them. When they speak, they want to be heard and valued. And they want guidance on how to be successful from people who have already walked the path they’re embarking on.

There is no mystery there.

Recognizing this similarity between Millennials and all generations is the easy part. The real solution  to retaining your millennial talent is easier said than done and comes in establishing an intergenerational office culture founded on teaching, learning, listening and guidance. Here’s why and how:

 

Teaching Millennials Benefits All Generations   

PayScale’s 2016 Workforce Report revealed a stark contrast between Millennial’s perception of their preparedness for their job and that of their senior (and older) hiring managers. PayScale’s report showed that 87% of Millennials thought they were prepared for their job, while only 50% of managers felt their Millennial staff were prepared.

While managers are quick to pick up on Millennial’s unpreparedness, “they should just know it, the thinking goes, because the senior folks all learned it themselves.” Can you say …bull….

Nonetheless, they seem to turn a blind eye to a far more important Millennial characteristic: their desire for professional development opportunities.

According to PWC’s Millennials at Work Reshaping the Workplace Report, professional development is “…their first choice benefit from employers,” ranking above flexible hours and pay.

To begin developing a teaching culture, you need to ask yourself honestly: do your Millennial employees have regular opportunities to work with and learn from your senior staff?

If the answer is no, the time to start creating those learning opportunities for Millennials is now.

For senior staff, it means building a rapport and genuine relationship with their younger staff, a chance to pass on their expertise, and the chance to help the younger generation progress professionally.

For Millennials, mentorship opportunities provide a sense that their team and company are invested in them. Mentorships are a chance for younger talent to learn from the wisdom of those with decades of experience in their industry, to improve their skills in the areas they are lacking, and provide a sense of professional progress.

According to the data, if you want loyalty from Millennials, you have to provide them these opportunities to learn and grow professionally. This is a savvy and ambitious generation. Their hunger to learn and grow needs be fed by employers. Otherwise, Millennials are happy to pack up and find opportunities to develop their skills elsewhere.  

 

You’ve Got a Lot to Learn From Millennials

Though older generations may only view Millennials as 50% prepared for the workplace, that 50% can be incredibly valuable to senior staff who now face a strange and intimidating new landscape where email is seen as being a bit outdated and popular trends change on a dime.

Thankfully for senior staff, their Millennial colleagues present a unique learning opportunity on how to operate in the digital age.

From more efficient in-office communication tools, to new platforms to exploit, to understanding the ideas, motivations and mindset of 83  million of their fellow Millennials, the younger generation has a lot to teach the seasoned professionals in the office.

And Millennials want to teach.

They are aware that in the complex digital age, it is only those that innovate, adapt and evolve that survive. Millennial complaints about antiquated meeting schedules or dated sales tactics don’t come from a sense of entitlement; they come from a sense of urgency. They have taken part in the digital age since they were born. They know how fast the world moves. And they want you and your organization to keep up.

The reward for senior staff who take the time to learn from them? A crash course in the latest trends, tools, and platforms, in addition to that much sought after millennial loyalty.

But to learn, senior staff first have to be willing to listen.  

 

For Millennials, To Be Heard is to Be Valued

Millennial workers overwhelmingly enjoy working with the other older generations. In the same PWC study, 76% of Millennials said that they enjoyed working with “older senior management” and only 4% disagreed. It isn’t about being needy or entitled. Millennials want the opportunity to have their ideas heard, to get feedback on those ideas from senior staff, and to feel valued by the companies they work for.

And senior or seasoned staff may do well by listening.

Millennials are responsible for many of the recent positive trends in workplace environments. They facilitate more collaborative work environments, introduce communication tools that limit the need for inefficient meetings, emphasize the importance of having a sense of purpose at work, and have made CSR an essential company perk.  

They also represent a huge chunk of the US economy, “spending more than $650 billion each year and influencing upward of $1 trillion in total consumer spending.” Listening to how they think, the things they like, and the values they hold can help senior staff with decisions on everything from marketing strategies to product design.