Millennials get a bad rap. They’re supposed to be lazy, entitled, and more. But chances are your business is chock full of them. In fact, in 2015 millennials became the largest age group in the United States workforce, all 53.5 million of them. These digital natives have been connected to the Internet since they can remember, which can make them a handful to manage. With the right guidelines, clear expectations, and a creative outlet for their digital skills and ideas, your business could be managing digital natives more effectively—and seeing real results.
For employees born in the early 90s through the early 2000s, mobile is second nature. They got their first cell phones before they learned to drive. Texting is their go-to mode of communication, as 75% of millennials prefer texting over talking on the phone. But your employees need to answer the company phone when it rings and be effective face-to-face communicators. So what gives?
Set Expectations for Millennial Workers
You want engaged employees who are available for customers when they need help. That means making it very clear when and if it’s acceptable for your employees to use their smartphones. Many businesses choose a no phone while on duty policy, while others may allow employees to use their own discretion. For example, if business is slow and they’ve already cleaned, taken inventory, and any other imaginable productive task, maybe a few moments on Instagram wouldn’t be the end of the world. Which leads us to our next point…
Have Digital Natives Run Your Social Media
Your employees talk to your customers day in and day out. That means they have a good understanding of what they like and what inspires them to make a purchase. Why not turn that deep knowledge and social media savviness into something more? Have your employees who show interest in managing your social media accounts take turns posting on different social channels with unique messaging and at different times of the day. Then you can dig into the analytics and see what resonated best with your audience. Did one employee really get it and generate a ton of likes and followers? Give them more ownership over your social media accounts, so that you can always have new and exciting content, in addition to an increasingly attentive employee.
Give Millennial Workers Feedback and a Say
All employees want to know how they’re doing and this is especially true for millennial employees. Many came of age alongside Yelp and Uber, so they are used to the concept of rating someone’s performance. Now we don’t mean some dystopian, over the top scenario, like rating each personal interaction in the show Black Mirror. Instead, the key is to let employees know how they’re doing early and often. Business owners may be short on time, but planning a monthly check in with employees will give them a good understanding of how they’re doing and how they can improve. When they have clear ways to become better performers, the sooner you’ll see the results.
Digital natives don’t just want to work mindlessly. In fact, many of your millennial employees might have great ideas that could take your business to the next level. Whether it’s a new dish for the menu or an up and coming brand that’s just weeks away from blowing up, creating space for these ideas to flow will keep your business fresh. Maybe that takes place in your monthly check in or a quarterly competition to see who can come up with the next big thing. Giving digital natives a say in the future of your business will help them feel engaged and could even inspire them to work up the ladder and stay with your business for longer.
And try and meet your millennial workers in the middle: use modern employee management tools that make it easier for your team to manage their work life on their mobile devices.
Your workforce has undoubtedly gone through some changes in the last several years. Managing millennial workers may be unlike any other generation you’ve seen, but harnessing their skills and understanding what’s important to them can bridge that gap. The solution to any challenge starts with communication and that’s just what you’ll need when you’re rethinking how to manage digital natives.
Now over to you. Do you have any strategies that have worked particularly well when it comes to managing digital natives? Share your story in the comment section below.