How to Equip Yourself to “Employer-Parent” Talented Millennials

You know who they are. The one with his ear buds permanently attached to his ears, or the girl with twelve pieces of jewelry on her right ear alone who refuses to wear what you consider to be “business casual” attire.  Or maybe it’s the nerdy guy with glasses and messy hair whose face you’ve never really seen because he’s always in front of his computer or cell phone; never separated from his tools of technology for even a moment while at work. Oh, and they are always late or right on time. Whatever happened to being on time and prepared? Sitting at your desk at 7:45 a.m. ready to start the 8:00 a.m. day? Does it seem they require attention or tasks at all times, always in motion — on the go, ready for the next thing?

Even if you are a small business owner, among your dozen or so employees, the chances are good that you have at least one Millennial employee. How can you best equip yourself to “employer parent” this individual so that he or she is an undeniable asset to the team, rather than a distraction or irritant to your more seasoned employees?  A starting point is to understand Millennials better. Millennials are loosely defined as ages 18 to 34, with age 23 being the largest demographic within this segment of this population.  Be forewarned that the “catch-all” label of Millennials is not a concept its members strongly identify with.  Yet, credible studies of this age group do reveal the common social, economic, and technological factors that have shaped their lives and forged their values.  Due to the sheer numbers of Millennials and their expected longevity in the workforce, it is essential that employers understand the largest and most diverse segment of our population taking their place in the business world.

[tweetthis]Millennials: Equip yourself to “employer-parent” this talented group.[/tweetthis]

A high percentage are children of immigrants. As a group they are economically stressed, many more of this generation compared to previous ones live with their parents. They have decreasing opportunities at home ownership. They are very educated, but collectively have amassed a trillion dollar student loan debt. They still value education – more so than their European counterparts who have been demoralized by poor economic conditions.  Millennials are masters of technology and social media, value family and work-life balance.  While plenty of employers complain about lack of loyalty and short tenure of Millennials, their feedback often indicates a willingness to stay longer in their jobs given more purposeful work.

One of the most interesting pieces to the Millennial puzzle is the mistaken notion that they hate to be managed. They actually require it. This is due in large part to the way they were parented at home – millennials are essentially spoiled. And it’s ok for me to say this, because I myself am one of those temperamental, reactive, seemingly impossible to manage millennials. We are a generation that was over-parented. We didn’t play outside without supervision, we were raised by the more affluent boomers (who were parented much differently by their Depression-era moms and dads) and were often rescued by our parents when faced with trials or obstacles. Essentially, we are a generation of coddled guys and gals, told that our opinions matter and we are free to express ourselves within boundaries that are much wider and broader than the ones our own parents faced.

Now that you regret hiring millennials even more than you did before reading this, let me tell you the good news! There’s hope! Millennials may require a little bit of parenting at work, but once they are managed and coached correctly, the sky is the limit because along with our spoiling came a sense of pride in our own success, a drive to achieve and a knack for technology. We crave direction, but at the same time, would like a little freedom to make decisions for ourselves. It’s a tricky combo, but one that could lead to great organizational success for small business owners who master the managing of millennials.

Christine Hassler, renowned speaker on the topic of generational differences in the workplace specifically focusing on the millennials, argues that millennials do in fact want to be managed. She writes, “I think it is imperative for managers to be ‘coaches’ to their employees, especially the millennials, as that is what the Millennials expect.” They require validation, crave feedback from their supervisors, and are confused by the world of work in general. Statistics show that the majority of teens during the ’70s and ’80s worked during summer vacation, while only one-third of today’s teens have a paying job over the summer. Instead, they choose to volunteer, work in unpaid internships, and enroll in high school or college courses. All of this looks great on college resumes, but is not practical when it comes time for these millennials to enter the workforce. They have no idea how to set up direct deposit for payroll with their ban

  • Include information on company culture and values in your employee handbook, go over timesheets, employment paperwork, vacation requests and all of the details involved with the company procedures during their orientation.
  • Take the guess work out of the workplace for your millennials and become their coach, and you’ll start off on a better foot with your millennials moving forward.

Keep in mind that Millennials are facing many tough challenges across their long lifespan but their common skills and values make them well equipped to face and overcome these adversities.  Employers who understand and bring out the best of their Millennials will tap into the potentially valuable contribution to the workforce and the innovation they are capable of.

For more on Millennials see 15 Economic Facts About Millennials, 2014 Report of the United States Office of the Presidentl Council of Economic Advisors.

Difficult Yet Talented Employees: Troublemakers Unite!

Are the most talented employees in your workplace also the most difficult to deal with? Different employees will require engagement criteria that works for his or her individual personality – it’s not a one size fits all solution. So how can you identify what engagement criteria will work for those talented yet difficult employees? Job suitability assessments are one way, and lucky for you, Peoplescape consultants are skilled at analyzing the data provided by such tools. Also, looking at an employee’s generational profile can tell you a lot about what their needs will be in order to keep them engaged in the workplace and focused on solutions for the projects and challenges at hand. It is also important to look at the competition; what are the pay rates and benefit packages for similar positions across the industry marketplace? Lastly, making sure that management is well-trained and able to engage their employees is a critical piece of this puzzle. You don’t want to let your talented employees go, but you also want to make their difficulty something that managers and peers can work with – rather than it being an obstacle.
So what are some easy-to-identify traits of these difficult yet talented employees? Here goes!

1. They know their worth to the organization.
2. They are organizationally and politically savvy.
3. They have little respect for hierarchy.
4. They are demanding and often expect instant access to the resources they need at any given moment.
5. They network well – a pro and con for any organization because their network extends to other places of work if things don’t go accordingly to their plan!
6. They do not see any need for a manager (which makes managing them EXTREMELY challenging!)

In reading this list, I’m sure that you can identify a few of these employees in your own organization. Do they represent a wide generational population or do they typically fall into that millennial or Generation X category? As we’ve discussed at length at peoplescapehr.com/blog, encouraging employees of these generational groups and providing a stimulating work environment can go a long way to support successful working relationships between generations. However, you have to be careful that you are not catering to a difficult yet talented population of employees and accidentally ignoring everyone else. There must be some balance to the process, and managers will have to tread lightly to successfully engage their troublemakers (said with some sarcasm…and a little bit of an epiphany in thinking I myself have been one of those in workplaces – sincere apologies to my former supervisors!) while still making the less difficult and more dependable employees feel comfortable and valued as well.

Taking Stock & Shaking Up Those “Bored At Work” Employees!

[tweetthis]“Work is making a living out of being bored.” – Karl Lagerfeld[/tweetthis]

How true is this statement for you? How about for your co-workers? What can managers do to shift this feeling of work being something you HAVE to do rather than something that you can ENJOY doing? Taking stock and shaking things up is easier said than done, and changing the way we think about things is much more difficult than changing our actions. On a recent episode of Shark Tank, ABC’s hit show about inventors and investors backing those ideas financially, one entrepreneur presented his idea for the “Squatty Potty.” As one of the investors noted, it is challenging to shift the mindset of people when it comes to how and where they use the toilet. Similarly, it is difficult for many people to change how they view work and their attitude towards it. But alas, there is hope! If you’re bored at work, you can change it!

It is the employer’s responsibility to create an environment that welcomes new ideas, change, and forward thinking. Recently, a successful European beverage company was looking to make changes in order to encourage employee motivation and increase accountability and communication among employees. To shake things up in your organization, follow these simple steps! Let us know how it transforms your workplace.

1. BE TRANSPARENT – This goes for all levels from the CEO to the mail clerk. Be honest, be clear, and be open.

2. TONE DOWN THE CONVENTIONAL APPROACH – While recognizing the necessity in paying bills and such, encourage business innovation when it comes to things such as dress code, meetings, collaborative efforts, etc. Let creativity shine whenever possible!

3. BE A RISK TAKER – Encourage rules to be followed, but also allow for them to be challenged.

4. GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY – If someone needs help, lend a hand. If your officemate broke their desk chair, help them fix it or find a second-hand option. Be thrifty, be smart, and don’t be afraid to roll your sleeves up. Having an attitude of “that’s their problem” will only create tension and destroy the office dynamic.

5. INDIVIDUALITY – This is key. Everyone brings something different to the table. Recognize that, appreciate it, and inspire it.

6. TRUST YOUR EMPLOYEES – To an extent, the trust we give to our co-workers and employees to produce an exemplary solution is what fosters growth and teamwork.

7 Things Great Employers Do

How do you get your workforce engaged in the work they are doing? This is a question that comes up quite a bit, as employers are attempting to get their employees involved, productive, and enthusiastic about their work. There are 7 things great employers do that creates a “feel good” approach to getting your employees engaged and creating a work culture that others will envy!

[tweetthis]There are 7 things great employers do that creates a work culture others will envy![/tweetthis]

1. Start with your leaders – Choose involved, creative leaders who want to make a difference and get others excited about your business.

2. Build a strong HR team – HR influences managers to make business decisions – use the HR team to create positive changes throughout your organization.

3. Get down to the basics – Tell employees what is expected of them. Don’t think that employees will connect with an abstract mission or vision if they don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing day-to-day. Be clear and direct.

4. Don’t use the economy as an excuse – Make changes, give (realistic) hope to the employees, be upfront with them. This will go a long way in reassuring employees that your business is around for the long haul!

5. Hold your managers accountable, but trust them too! – Be supportive of your managers, but also make sure that you are holding them accountable and keeping your standards high for your management team as well as their employees.

6. Have a straightforward approach to performance management – Fairness is key in performance management – keep the same standards across the board and treat everyone equally. Streamline your processes so that everyone in the company goes through the same performance management evaluations.

7. Don’t manage to the metric – Yes, utilize tools at your disposal for gauging employee engagement. But do NOT make the actual engagement less important than the measuring of it.

employee resignation

I Quit! Did You See It Coming?

Almost every HR professional has at least one story of a “creative” employee resignation.

From an employee saying they’re going to lunch and never returning, to an employee bringing a Marching Band into the office to play him out, some of the stories sound like a scene out of the movies. If the employee was obviously disgruntled, it may not come as a surprise that they make their exit in a grandiose (and possibly disruptive) way.

What if the resignation is coming from one of your top performers? When the resignation letter hits your desk, were you prepared for it? About a month ago, CNN Money came out with an article about job-hopping to gain salary increases, and these are increases that are much larger than your average company would offer as an annual increase. While the examples they used were extreme, with the number of available jobs on the rise, employees may be more willing to test their luck in the job market.

[tweetthis]Available jobs are on the rise, and your talent may be on the move.[/tweetthis]

Have you checked in with your top talent lately? If not, it may be a good time to do so. Let’s talk about some of the warning signs that your talent may be gearing up for a change.

1. The Wardrobe Upgrade: An employee who usually has a more casual style that starts wearing a tie a few times a week may be interviewing. It could also just be a wardrobe change.

2. Wacky Scheduling: Your most consistent employee, in at 8 and out at 5 suddenly starts shifting their schedule around. Coming in an hour or two late, leaving a little early, or even taking an extended lunch could be another warning sign of meeting with a potential new employer. On the flip side, it may be that the employee is dealing with non-work related issues, like tending to a sick loved one. Either way, a sudden change in schedule on a continued basis when they previously were very consistent may warrant a check in conversation – especially if the wardrobe upgrades seem to coincide with these days!

3. Salary Stagnancy: When was the employee’s last increase? Was it a standard 2-3% increase or merit based? It’s unrealistic to try and give everyone a raise to keep them, but if an employee hasn’t seen a raise in en extended period of time, they may listen to articles like CNN Money and Forbes that tell them they could command more by leaving. (It may also be time to do a salary survey to see if your salaries are still on par with the market!)

4. Decline in Product: Whether it’s efficiency or quality, if an employee is becoming disengaged their work product may decline. That’s not to say you should panic if an employee has one bad project, but if their work may decline over multiple projects, they may no longer be fully invested in the work.

5. Life Events: Getting married, a new child, or the declining health of a loved one can be a game changer. This one usually has less to do with the employer, but having a conversation with the employee as soon as you learn about the life event could help you plan for the future. You may also be able to discuss flexible work schedules, telecommuting, and the various types of leaves available to the employee. If the employee knows they have options, they may be more inclined to stay.

You can never guarantee that an employee is going to stay with the company forever, but taking the time to check in and test engagement levels may help you to build action plans around key employees or start planning and resourcing for the future.

What are some warning signs you have seen in your workplace?