How to adapt to the new millennial workforce

The world is changing. I feel it in the water. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it.

Did you get the reference? If yes, you’re probably a millennial. If not, it might be time to freshen up your pop culture savviness, because the millennials are coming and they’re changing the way our industry works.

There’s a lot of chatter these days about those “darn millennials” and their expectations when it comes to work. But the fact is that technology has laid the foundation for a huge change in the culture of the modern workplace, and millennials are more in tune with that change than anyone else. They grew up with mobile technology and instant information at their fingertips, and it’s informed the way they get work done.

Ultimately, millennials are citizens of a global community, and if you want to leverage their skills as employees (and prepare to serve them as clients – because that’s coming soon enough), you need to rethink the culture of your workplace.

“When recruiting it is no longer enough to have the basics – vacation, benefits, great work environment, flexibility in work shift, work at home and so on – all of these are a must and millennials don’t even look at potentially working for you if you don’t offer more,” says Norrie Davidson, CEO of WW Works in Burlington, Ont. “You have to show that your culture truly supports what you are saying from the moment they walk in.”

In particular, you need to offer a welcoming culture that nurtures the talents of your millennial staff. “If they’re not motivated, they’ll be gone before you know it,” Davidson says. She knows that millennials are looking for a workplace that demonstrates appreciation for their talents, and that will allow them to grow their skills and build a niche for themselves. “If you tell them they have to wait a year – forget it.”

But that shouldn’t discourage you from working with millennials. Their demands for a new kind of work culture aren’t unrealistic – in fact, they’re more in tune with the new world that our I.T. has created. With a bloated workforce and a dwindling number of skilled positions available, millennials know they have to be ready to seize opportunities put in front of them, or regret it when they don’t.

You can use that to your advantage. Build the kind of work environment that fosters skill growth and advancement for millennials, complete with an understanding of their culture, and you’ll win their loyalty.

  • Promote a mobile work environment using telecommuting, conference abilities, remote maintenance tools, virtual desktops, and more.
  • Maintain regular communications with team members – don’t go overboard on meetings, but keep everyone in the loop. Millennials want to know they’re noticed, and if they feel like a part of the background, they will fade away.
  • Have a sense of humour. Embrace pop culture. Be willing to embrace the silly or the weird. Millennials want connection more than anything else, and if you offer even a base understanding of their interests, they will reward that with loyalty.

You may not understand the new generation, but that’s been said about every generation that’s come along. Millennials are a part of the future of our industry, and if you don’t roll with that future, it’s going to roll over you. Start learning how to embrace their skillsets and create a welcoming environment that lets them stretch their talents, and you will reap the rewards.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Stuart Crawford
Stuart Crawford
Stuart Crawford is an MSP marketing specialist and coaching professional. He is president of Ulistic Inc., a managed services coaching, mentorship, sales and outsourced marketing services firm. For more info call u 716.799.1999 or email [email protected]

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