Employers often struggle with their Millennial workers. Some Millennial workers are perceived as unmotivated, resistant to acclimating to the business’ culture, self-centered and in need of a tremendous amount of hand holding.
But the fact that members of this generation are viewed negatively should not be surprising. Gen Y, Gen X, Baby Boomers and even “the Greatest Generation,” have been seen with discomfort or even outright disgust, by members of previous generations. But focusing on negatives makes businesses miss the strengths that Millenials can bring to a business.
Millenials are incredibly creative, accounting for the majority of American entrepreneurs, and have an ability to see problems from new perspectives. It goes without saying that they are the most tech-savvy generation and have the ability to reach greater markets due to familiarity with social media. Millennials are questioning and can often find flawed assumptions and processes that hinder businesses. Millennials are energized when they feel that they are contributing to a greater good and they thrive when their work adds value to society, social justice and philanthropic efforts.
The way to address weaknesses, and bring out these strengths in your Millennial workers, is to provide effective mentoring. Mentoring cuts training costs, creates emotional bonds between your workers and your business, engenders feelings of loyalty, develops skills and leadership ability and sends the message that you value your Millennial workers. When valued and offered opportunities to develop, Millennials turn into motivated, entrepreneurial-minded members of your team. The Harvard Business Review found that millennial workers are highly open to, and actively seek out, mentoring and recommends mentoring as a primary method of facilitating their success.1
Forbes contributor Kaytie Zimmerman points out a very telling statistic from the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey in her piece “Modern Mentoring Is The Key To Retaining Millennials.” It states that 68% of Millenials who intend to stay with their employers for more than five years have mentors. In addition, a ShoeMoney.com blog post found that Google employees who left the company named a lack of mentoring as a major reason for leaving.
Mentoring is especially important for Millennial Women. According to WomenOnBusiness.com, creating and developing business relationships are seen as key by successful female entrepreneurs. Mentoring has also been empirically linked to empowering women for future career advancement2.
And if you are looking to put a Millennial worker in a management position, mentoring is an absolute must. Tiffany Saulnier, MBA of the Cliftonstrengths Coaching Blog, writes that “Mentors give millennial managers the ongoing development needed for personal growth.” Matt Fann of PSMJ Resources Inc., himself a Millennial, states that “We want a mentor to help us with professional development”.
Millennials are the Benjamin Franklin Generation. Benjamin Franklin was an inventor and Millennials are creators. Franklin strongly opposed authoritarianism – and no one questions status quo thinking quite like Millennials. Benjamin Franklin emphasized tolerance, and his successful diplomatic interactions with other nations were essential to the founding of the United States. No generation has ever been so dedicated to diversity and knowledge of other people and new ideas as Millennials. If these strengths are properly tapped, Millennial workers can take a business into territory previously unimagined.
1 Meister, Jeanne C., and Karie Willyerd. “Mentoring millennials.” Harvard business review, 88.5 (2010): 68-72.
2 Washington, Christa Ellen. “Mentoring, organizational rank, and women’s perceptions of advancement opportunities in the workplace.”International Journal of Business and Social Science, 2.9 (2011).