I travel across the country speaking on change and generations in the workplace and I can assure you that there is no silver bullet when it comes to managing and marketing to Millennials—people born after 1980 and especially those now leaving college. The key to successfully managing—and marketing to—this generation begins with understanding them. They look at their world, lifestyle, and work very differently than the generations preceding them do. The unpopular news is that you have to meet Millennials where they are. Yes, it does take more energy, but if you invest the extra time, you’re more likely to keep them in your organization and grow their talent. The bottom line is that forcing them to conform to your way will only push them away.
Workplace expectations that Millennials have include:
■ Inclusion—They want to work with positive people and to be treated with respect and asked for their input.When I presented at SWA I learned the true meaning of Inclusion.SWA lives it! LiJi Thomas, Senior Manager, Diversity & Inclusion at Southwest Airlines said it best, “Diversity is like getting an invitation to the dance. Inclusion is being asked to dance once you get there.”
■ Challenge—They want to work on demanding projects with an engaged team that cares about the outcome.
■ Learning—They want to gain knowledge from a variety of tasks so they can grow their career quickly.
■ Career goals—They want to be able to see their future and their career path in your organization.
■ Techno 24/7—They want the ability to leverage technology to work—anytime/anyplace.
Nearly half of all Millennials say they can’t live without the Internet, according to a recent study by The McCarthy Group, a marketing consulting agency. Target ad dollars there, not toward print media, which is read by less than 10 percent of Millennials.
■ Tap into Social Platforms – When it come to content, Millennials are digital. A great way to market to Millennials is to evoke a multi-platform approach through social media. McCarthy Group states “A total of 71% of Millennials are daily users of social networks and are spending a daily average of 5.4 hours on social platforms.Recently I was speaking to large group and asked, “How do you get your news?” I was amazed a how many of the younger members in the audience said, “TWITTER!”
■ Results oriented—They want to be evaluated on their finished work, not on how, when, or where the work is done.
■ Honest leadership—They want transparency about compensation and what it takes to get ahead. (If you’re advertising to Millennials, watch out! Eighty-four percent do not trust traditional advertising, according to McCarthy.)
If you want to understand the psychology of Millennials, consider these clues:
Tech Matters, But Relationships Matter More
Millennials are known for their love of technology, texting, and connecting online, but did you know that they also value clear communication, an understanding of expectations, and authentic relationships? Their friends matter and they trust a recommendation from their peers more than advertising, websites, and hype marketing.
Millennials Want to Interact Directly and Often with Their Managers and Coworkers
They want to work in a friendly place where they feel a sense of acceptance and enjoyment in the workplace environment. They want to identify with the company’s core values and work with people who share their priorities. They are very willing to leave if the company’s purpose does not align with their own values. Anything less would mean they are not individually authentic and therefore cannot relate to managers and fellow team members in an authentic way.
Interaction also matters when marketing to this generation. Sharing information and comments is a big part of they day to day activity. Marketers must create ways of engagement where comments are shared on social platforms.
This Is the Me, Me, Me Generation
Millennials’ parents told them they were special, and they believed it! It’s important for this generation to stand out and celebrate their uniqueness. Check out the Sr. Pepper commercial.
They’re proud of their individuality and look for ways to express themselves. That can be seen in their tattoos, piercings, hair color, and dress. An astute manager helps Millennials balance their need to be unique and still be in balance with the organization’s needs and brand. Achieving this goal may take some creative thinking. In addition to being individualistic, millennials understand the value of teams. They are committed to their units and to the company. However, their definition of commitment has changed and doesn’t include sacrificing health or putting up with a work/life balance that is out of whack. Commitment to them means good business outcomes for both the company and the clients of the company.
Millennials Are Restless for Career Results
Not all Millennials look at their first job as their final career. Many younger employees consider their work “something to do between weekends” and aren’t thinking about climbing the corporate ladder. The more focused Millennials have a self-centered work ethic and are in search of a career path. If you are working with them, show them where they fit into your organization, take time and show them a career path, and open their eyes to the opportunities in front of them and in other departments. “This millennial generation is not just looking for a job. They’re not just looking for salary and financial benefits,” says Dennis Nally, head of human resources at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “They’re looking for skill development. They’re looking for mobility. They’re looking for opportunities to acquire different skills and to move quickly from one part of an organization to another.” Adds Nally, “How you manage that sort of talent and how you deal with their expectations is very different from what’s been done in the past.” As a company leader, you can find it frustrating to manage Millennials.
The biggest challenge for any organization is to be open and willing to make a shift.
It must bend to accommodate the millennial mind-set. Of course, the need for young talent is enormous. Competition is fierce to recruit and retain the best talent. Organizations unable or unwilling to make the shift will pay dearly for their inflexibility. Millennials have the ability to transform disruption of the workplace into profit for your company. First, however, your managers and marketers must be willing to adapt and change to fit their needs.
Are you up for the challenge?