Flexibility, Feedback & Fun: Managing Millennials in the Workplace

In March, we blogged about mentorship and the future of work, especially as it relates to the multi-generational workforce today. Check it out here if you’d like a background to this blog: http://peoplescapehr.com/mentorship-future-work/. We’ve talked before about millennials and how they’re changing the face of the workplace, both in diversity and in the implementation of ideas and innovative strategies for competing in today’s ever-changing business world. Now, let’s take a deeper look at

the ways in which you, as a leader, can manage your millennials to get the most out of their unique skill set and worldview in order to bring success and growth to your organization.

Millennials crave a few things: flexibility, feedback and fun! Flexibility is one of the biggest game changers we’ve seen in the workplace since the flood of millennials. Flex schedules, work-life balance, telecommute options, and fluidity in all things structure are important to your Gen Y cohorts. What does this look like in practical ways that you can use to entice your millennials to stay:

  1. Offer flexible schedules – commuting is a big deal in Southern California where we find our headquarters at Peoplescape, where we also spend much of our time virtual working ourselves! So, for some of our clients and colleagues, start times ranging from 5am – 11am and employees closing up shop anywhere from early afternoon to evening based on their flex schedule are great options for people based on their commute, family obligations, extracurricular activities, etc. Your advertising guru might take a 10am yoga class down the street, so coming in at 11am might be ideal. For a mom of four kids who hustles to and from soccer practice starting at 4pm every day of the week, an earlier start time would be beneficial, even if she goes back on her Dell after the kids are in bed.
  2. Many employers have seen the importance of work-life balance for their employees, especially as it plays out for parents. Most working parents love the flexibility in schedules to allow for attendance at the kindergarten holiday performance for example. Gauge what is important to your workforce, and ask your employees what really matters to them. This open dialogue about their own personal goals for work-life balance will make setting up a system that works so much easier and you’ll know exactly what is on the table. Not every employee is going to take advantage of this type of flex scheduling or breaks for family-related school events, but offering it could make the difference between keeping or losing a great millennial employee!

The next big factor for many millennials and the way in which you manage them is whether or not you provide feedback. And feedback today looks much different than it did fifty years ago (or at least it should!), where your supervisor would sit you down and check off boxes on a standardized form and tell you what you did well and didn’t.. Now, employees expect frequent and constructive feedback – tell Susie something that will help her improve her work product, not whether or not she is performing to the standards expected on a form that was created by someone who has never done Susie’s job. Get specific and get real with your employees (in a tactful way, of course). Make feedback conversational and don’t forget to ask them how they think they are doing…. And how you are doing too, wouldn’t hurt, for good measure. Gone are the days of annual performance reviews, as discussed in our recent blog http://peoplescapehr.com/doin-effective-performance-management-strategies/. Employees crave feedback much more regularly than once a year, the workplace today demands it and the new methods allow the employee to immediately apply the feedback. Many of us do completely different things today than we did one year ago, even if we are performing the same job function. Work is dynamic, tasks and technology are constantly changing – so employees should be hearing from you as quickly as those pieces of the workplace puzzle are shifting too.

The last major trick in managing your millennials today is to make sure there is an element of fun, adventure and giving back” in your workplace! Not only do millennials love their dog-friendly, snack-giving, adventure-seeking perks but they also want to make a difference. They want to bring an impact to the world, not just clock in for a 9-to-5 behind a high cubicle wall. They want to interact with people, they want to grow, they want a challenge. Bringing this sense of adventure, fun and creativity to your workplace could be as simple as giving that ambitious 28-year-old the ability to pitch their non profit at work during a lunch and learn for example. Or it could mean setting up a pool table or ping pong on the outdoor patio. Whatever the case is, make minor changes to see huge growth in your millennial talent pool, and your efforts will be rewarded!  According to Director of People & Culture at BetterCloud, Emily Disston, the perks seen in giants like Google and Facebook today are fun – snacks, yoga classes and bring-your-dog-to-work policies. But, are you looking at the deeper picture of what makes a creative work environment work so well for millennials? Disston writes, “Do your employees have a stake in the company? Not the stock options kind of stake—though, that works, too—but I’d suggest empowering everyone. In my experience, Millennials want to own a project, run with it, and make a real, measurable difference.”

Don’t just talk about the changes, make it happen!