The surprising answer: pretty much the same way you'd talk to anyone else.
Communicating with the youngest segment of our workforce starts in the same place it does with anybody - finding a message that resonates. In business, that means laying out the goals and getting people on board by talking about how to get there...together. "When we do this," Bright Horizons' Elisa Vincent told an audience at Solutions at Work LIVE 2015, "we get buy-in. If we don't, fewer people will listen."
Knowing Your MillennialsWhat's different for Millennials, of course, is the precise message that will resonate. Elisa, director of leadership and professional development at Bright Horizons, spoke at length about this and how to effectively capitalize on Millennial talents. Why does it matter? Simply put - math. Millennials are outpacing the next largest segment of the workforce by 7%. More telling: there are more 22-year-olds right now than any other age group in this country. Add to that Baby Boomers retiring, and you have a seismic shift in the workforce demographic one that will only be effectively navigated by those who speak the right language.
Some Facts About Working With MillennialsFor starters, Elisa told the group that Millennials aren't who you think they are - in other words, they're not the entitled, difficult, job-hopping, lazy slackers they're often pegged to be.
What they are: the most educated demographic (90% plan to pursue a college education), the most diverse (50% of Millennials in the workplace are women), and not surprisingly, the most connected (they all have smartphones).
They're also eager for knowledge, hungry for meaning in their work, and would gladly stick with an employer that offered them growth potential. In a Bright Horizons study on millennials, 60% said they'd opt for growth potential over money; 90% said they'd gladly forego job hopping to stay with one employer for the long haul.
So...How Do You Get Millennial Buy-In?As people, Millennials want many of the same things their elders do to be respected for their talents and to feel that their contributions matter.
That brings us back to the earlier question... how to get their buy-in? How do you build that message that resonates?
Elisa told the audience it comes down to understanding what's important to them and organizing accordingly.
To that end, she pointed to three areas of opportunity:
Our youngest generation likes to receive info fast. So delivering on that imperative engaging them from the beginning, mentoring them, coaching them, and providing constant feedback and a great first-year experience will encourage loyalty and help them remain engaged.
Learning and Development
Millennials are hungry for growth opportunities, so communicating precisely how they can grow in the company - right from recruiting onwards - is critical. They also want to know what they can accomplish. That will require a shift in language from, "Here's what you will learn" to "What you will learn here will help you better understand X, and that will help us be more successful."
A hallmark of the Millennial is a yearning for a meaningful experience in work and in life. This isn't "everybody gets a trophy." It's about recognizing (formally and informally) how they contribute and in what ways they're impacting the success of the organization as a whole.The goal, said Elisa, is not how to win over Millennials, but a workforce that's in synch.
There's no perfect formula, she concluded. "Millennials will struggle to make an imprint on this world, as we did, as we do. And as their leaders, we will continue to struggle to resonate with them, to develop them, and to still build workplaces and cultures that are profitable and sustainable."