Building Your Business Around A New Millennial Workforce
This is a guest post from Jori Hamilton (see bio at the end of the article) – thanks Jori…
As millennials and Gen Z now make up the majority of the workforce, there is a distinct shift happening in workplace cultures and how businesses operate as a whole. Newer generations have a very different attitude towards work than their predecessors. As such, employers are finding that they must quickly adapt or face plummeting retention rates, which can lead to high turnover costs and lost revenue.
It’s not that millennials are overly entitled, as many older generations claim, but rather that they expect to be given what they deserve as one of the most educated and hard-working generations. Millennials want better for themselves and future generations and are thus more outspoken about their needs. This means as older generations retire, companies are having to restructure their priorities to be more employee-focused.
Many of the millennials that make up today’s professional workforce have worked hard to get where they are. They are often willing to go above and beyond and even work late hours and weekends to show their dedication, yet they often still deal with employers that are unappreciative and underpaying them. This issue has led to a push for a change in how companies treat their employees.
Younger generations are simply demanding better. They are willing to go the extra mile for their employers, but that means they expect their employers to go the extra mile in return. They don’t want to quit and leave their employers, but they are also unwilling to commit to blind loyalty when they are not being respected and appreciated.
However, the demand for more goes beyond better pay and benefits packages. Though these are two things that millennials do look for when job hunting, they also have other priorities that will impact their decision. Aside from good pay, millennials also look for companies with good core values that support equality and diversity. They want to know that they are working for an employer with ethical and equitable business practices because they not only care about themselves but about their impact on the world as well.
There are many factors that can influence workplace culture and affect the dynamic between millennials and their employers. Differences in age, cultural values, education, and more can all play a part in how younger generations think and work differently compared to their older employers. While it is good to have a diverse workplace culture full of different points of view, it can also create tension and affect synergy, which can negatively impact the business as a whole.
While some differences are good, too many differences of opinion, particularly where employee appreciation is concerned, can do more harm than good. So it’s essential for employers to acknowledge these barriers and find ways to adapt and bridge the gaps to create a healthier and more positive work environment.
If these differences are not addressed, and the demands of this new generation of workers are not met, companies can face numerous issues, including low engagement and productivity, high turnover rates and costs, and a general lack of trust. If employees feel they are not seen, heard, and valued, they will question their commitment to the company and its motives. They will second guess themselves, they will second guess their employers, and they will be unwilling to put in the effort to help the company grow.
Just as a brand seeks to satisfy consumers, it should also seek to satisfy its workers. Overall, businesses that place emphasis on positive values, ethical practices, and employee appreciation tend to experience more growth and success.
So when building a new business or restructuring an existing one, it’s important to consider not only how you will attract customers, but also how you will attract and retain today’s newer generation of workers. Below are some of the many ways companies can turn towards a more employee-focused workplace culture.
In marketing, the “follow-the-sun” model is generally applied to attract and retain customers, but this method can also be applied to your employees. The general idea is a workflow that follows the sun to better address delays and increase responsiveness across time zones.
While time zones may not be an issue with your employees, the basic concept of managing workflow with better coordination and collaboration to improve communication and response times can overall create a more positive work environment. To do this, the model focuses on what are called the three C’s:
- Coordination: The more coordinated and collaborative your employees are, the better the customer experience will be. However, this also is beneficial to your employees because collaboration allows for more positive and creative workplace cultures where employees feel more connected to one another.
- Communication: Of course, good communication is key with any business, but millennials especially appreciate employers that are good communicators. Workplaces in which employees feel they can make their voices heard, share their knowledge, and have good communication and clarity with their managers and supervisors are important to the millennial workforce.
- Culture: The happier your employees are, the happier your customers are. So creating a positive, ethical, and equitable company culture will generally have a very positive and significant impact on the success of your business as a whole.
By focusing on these three C’s, employers can go a long way towards improving the workplace to develop a more employee-focused approach that appeals to younger generations of workers.
If this one feels repetitive, you’re getting the idea. More money and good benefits are something any employee would like, but millennials especially prioritize good values and mindfulness. They have strong opinions about how they and others should be treated and are in favor of equality and diverse workplaces that better reflect the world we live in.
Though this one is a given, it’s still worth mentioning. One of the biggest disappointments for millennials are employers that don’t pay their staff what they deserve. Unfortunately, millennials are still often underpaid, considering their experience and hard work. Though this isn’t true with every employer, it happens often enough that millennials will prioritize companies with competitive salaries and benefits packages over others and will not think twice about demanding more if they think the offer is too low.
Millennials want to feel like they are working for a company that empowers them, not one that lords over them with authority. Every business needs supervisors to manage and ensure everyone is doing their job, but it’s better to have leaders that encourage, support, and empower rather than leaders that use their power to simply dictate demands.
It’s essential for employers to remember that their staff are human beings with personal needs. Unlike previous generations, millennials prioritize their mental health and well-being, which means having a better work-life balance. They are dedicated to working hard, but they also believe that making your career your entire life is unhealthy and not sustainable. This means they prefer to work for employers that offer a more flexible work style that enables them to take time off when they need it, even if it’s just for a mental health day.
These are just a few of the many ways companies can refocus their priorities to attract and retain this new generation of workers. The idea overall is to create a culture and work environment that shows more respect and appreciation for the employees that work hard to help the company succeed. Millennials have put a lot of time, money, and effort into their education and are willing to give that same dedication to their employers when their needs are met, and their values are shared.
Jori Hamilton – Jori is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to business productivity, marketing strategies, and HR solutions. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach