Communicating with millennials in the workplace

We already know that millennials are the most disengaged generation in the workplace. A recent Gallup study revealed that 71% of millennials are either not engaged or actively disengaged at work. Today millennials make up 25% of the workforce and by 2025; they’ll make up 75%. It has never been more important for companies to adapt and accommodate newcomers to their environment.

How do we change our communication strategies in order to fully engage this ‘new’ generation?

Consider what we know about millennials;

  • They are tech savvy
  • They look for purpose and meaning in what they do & want to make a difference
  • They have a great need for acknowledgement and praise
  • Professional growth and development is important to them
  • They enjoy collaborating
  • Freedom and work-life balance is non-negotiable

When communicating with millennials, it is important to keep these characteristics in mind.

  1. Tech: Millennials define their use of technology as the #1 thing that differentiates them from previous generations. Millennials are often referred to as the text generation and studies show that they are highly likely to completely ignore phone calls and emails but respond to text messages almost instantaneously. Studies also show that millennials consider being able to use social media during work, more important than pay. If millennials are actively going to engage on social media during the day anyway, why not use these platforms to directly communicate with them? Keep communication short and to the point. Be clear and remember to give immediate feedback.
  2. Purpose: For an instant connection, ask millennials for their input or advice. This generation is constantly seeking a purpose. They want to feel part of something bigger and want to actively contribute towards it. Share the ‘big picture’ and show them what end result their input leads to. Ensure that communication is open and has a two-way flow. Elicit feedback from employees regarding projects that they’re working on and initiatives that you may be running. Offer them the opportunity to share ideas and contribute in innovative ways. Share results and successes with them. Create opportunities for them to get involved with your company’s social responsibility initiatives. And don’t forget to communicate company values, goals and strategies. Though millennials feel that salary and benefits are important, it is not a signing factor for them, they deem a good culture and value fit more important.
  3. Recognition: The ‘trophy’ generation is used to being rewarded for everything they do. Other generations might not understand why you would want to be rewarded for just showing up but this is what we have made millennials accustomed to. Share small wins and big successes on all communication platforms. Acknowledge contributions and praise publicly.
  4. Growth: Professional growth and development can’t happen fast enough for millennials and patience in this regard might need to be taught. It is the responsibility of leaders to coach and mentor millennials in both the hard and soft elements of the work environment. Create a supportive culture and open communication so millennials can confidently approach others for guidance. Openly share advice in a structured way but don’t come across as preachy. Millennials are open to advice from others but only if they feel like they are also being heard. Communicate opportunities for employees to grow within the company and have career development conversations with individuals.
  5. Collaboration: It is important for millennials to collaborate and co-create. Ask for their input, not only as individuals but as a team or a group. Have them share ideas with each other, their supervisors, other teams and even management.
  6. Freedom: Encourage work-life balance. Respect your employee’s time away from work. Avoid work communication outside working hours.

Use these 6 easy steps for effective communication with millennials and increase engagement through communication.

Remember: For any communication strategy to be truly effective, you need trust. The easiest way to earn someone’s trust is by being authentic.

Purposefully create a culture of engagement where people matter. Create meaningful relationships with individuals and a culture of caring. Incorporate this culture of honest communication, authenticity and caring in your communication strategy and you’re bound to engage staff from any generation.

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