Younger employees, sometimes called millennials, are the workhorses of most growing companies, and while they don’t yet hold high levels of responsibility, they do take on the lion’s share of the day-to-day tasks that keep an organization running, from inventory handling to records management to customer contact.
And younger employees are not just paid for their hands-on labors—some of their most valuable contributions are intangible qualities like enthusiasm, innovative thinking, and future potential. A younger employee may not be able to take the wheel right now, but as she stays in the office and grows with the company, she accumulates institutional knowledge that will work in everyone’s favor as she’s promoted to a management role.
So making the most of your younger workers means two things: 1.) Leveraging their current energy and ambition, and 2.) holding onto them, so when they’re ready to advance, they stay with the organization instead of looking elsewhere for opportunity. Here are a few moves that can help you encourage your younger employees to look inward instead of outward when they’re ready to make a move.
1. Emphasize the values—and value—of your business.
Younger workers prefer jobs with real meaning and real consequence in the larger world. They also like working for companies that operate with integrity. Focus on the Total Bottom Line, which includes community contributions and long term sustainability, and you’ll earn the respect and loyalty of your millennial employees. Focus on profit alone, and you’ll lose them as soon as they see an opportunity for something better.
2. Provide generous feedback.
Feedback helps all employees thrive, and it provides a sense of direction and structure that young workers crave. Valuable feedback is meaningful, positive, and constant. Provide your young workers with detailed annual reviews, but make sure you also check in with them on a daily and weekly basis to let them know how they’re doing.
3. Don’t confuse feedback with criticism.
Feedback acknowledges that both manager and employee are on the same team and want what’s right for the company. Criticism, on the other hand, implies that the employee is somehow working against the company or trying to get away with substandard performance or behavior. Excess criticism results in adverse selection; confident, self-directed employees who hold marketable talents won’t tolerate it, and they don’t have to, since they can easily find work elsewhere. If you encourage a culture of criticism, your strongest employees will leave and only the desperate will remain.
4. Encourage teamwork and collaborative projects.
Younger workers seem to thrive in an environment of social stimulation and cross collaboration. If it makes sense to do so, take every opportunity to pair them or allow them to work in teams.
Most important, remember that younger workers are long term assets. Invest in them now, and they’ll be willing to invest in the company later on when their skills and experience have doubled and tripled the value of their contributions. For more on how to get the most out of your millennial talent, reach out to the Little Rock staffing experts at CSS.