Personnel matters are among the top concerns shared by small business professionals. Irrespective of your niche, motivated employees are a vital part of the mix, promoting your organization’s long-term goals, as well as tackling the operational tasks that keep your business running smoothly. Without competent, trusted, staff working on your behalf, you’d be hard-pressed to move from square one; your business must evolve with the modern workforce.

Today’s workforce includes members of multiple generations, complicating the already delicate task of managing a mix of personalities, from varied backgrounds and professional specialties. Within this diverse pool of talent, millennials represent an increasingly large share of the professional workforce. Understanding their wants and needs can help you craft a corporate culture conducive to high productivity and unwavering motivation among the youngest members of your team.

Entrepreneurs Strive to Embrace and Integrate Millennials

The millennial generation often gets a bad rap for the habits and predilections setting apart some members of the group. Sometimes perceived as collectively spoiled and entitled, tales abound featuring narcissistic millennial pursuits, leaving the Greatest Generation aghast with disbelief. While millennials may indeed enjoy avocado toast with greater fervor than baby boomers (has this theory been tested?), there’s more to the generation than high-dollar breakfast bites. Accounting for their unique perspective can help you extract high returns from your investment in millennials – now accounting for one-third of the American labor force.

A recent USA Today article shared insight for employers striving to grow their businesses with the help of millennial workers. According to the piece, the average age of small business owners is just over 50 years, yet many staff members are in their twenties and thirties. Customers, too, are drawn from various age groups, and since millennials now comprise the largest American demographic; most businesses cater to the group – one way or another.

With the rising influence of the cohort of individuals born 1980-2000, many entrepreneurs have grown to understand new tactics are required, in order to harness the talent and productivity of the millennial generation. The phenomenon is so pronounced, professional consultants have devised cross-generational training programs to help bridge the gap between employees of different ages. The courses address differences across generations, accounting for millennials’ unique goals and priorities, as well as helping employers understand views held by younger workers.

Sprout Funding logoWorking alongside members of the millennial generation, many business owners also employ baby boomers as well as staff from Gen X and Gen Z. Keeping workers from four different generations on the same page presents obvious challenges, but there are also subtle concerns to address. One business owner quoted in the USA Today story shared she even has to account for slightly different interpretations of language like “business casual.”

In the above example, the difference in age wasn’t severe – reportedly only 6-10 years separated top tier management from line-level millennials. Nonetheless, the business owner wanted to take steps ensuring a work environment in which younger staff members could thrive. She brought in a consultant to help facilitate communication and understanding between members of different age groups.

Working in the marketing industry it was also felt putting-forth an effective multi-generational team could create a competitive advantage for the rapidly growing company. Having a diverse age representation, capable of connecting with members of different generations, left the organization in a better position to make marketing recommendations across various channels their customers were passionate about.

According to the business owner, millennials fill key roles in modern companies like hers, because younger members of the work force

  • have advanced skill sets compared to yesterday’s standards,
  • are tech savvy,
  • possess elevated analytical and presentation skills,
  • are comfortable working remotely,
  • have an entrepreneurial spirit,
  • hail from diverse backgrounds,
  • value more than money.

Managing Millennials’ Expectations

Failing to meet millennial expectations can be a costly mistake for small business owners. Unable to find fulfillment on the job, members of the millennial generation are less likely to stick around than their labor force predecessors, which can result in costly turnover for employers.

For example, you may intuitively feel as though your clients want to see years of experience during pitches and presentations, At he same time, millennial staffers are hungry for face time with customers and opportunities to develop their skills courting clients. Inability to strike an equitable balance appealing to younger members of your staff may cost you top millennial talent.

USA Today contributor, Rhonda Abrams, wrote about a number of common traits and expectations shared by millennials, helping you better understand their place in your small business.

  • On The Move – Millennial staffers are not content languishing in exactly the same position for years. Instead, they demand movement, learning, and personal development. It has been suggested retooling your advancement ladder may be enough to satisfy millennials needs, without a complete structural makeover. A single management role, for example, could be broken into multiple levels such as management 1, 2, and so on, creating opportunities for millennials to regularly move up the chain.
  • Cutting-Edge Technology – Millennials cut their teeth on technology, so they naturally expect access to gadgets and devices supporting their positions with your company. Members of the generation may in fact possess greater technological understanding than your leadership team – it’s in your best interest to be receptive, open to embracing it.
  • Money Isn’t Everything – The next wave of workers is tuned-in to issues and expects employers to be socially conscious. From ethical production practices to fair labor standards, millennials may be more sensitive to progressive workplace concerns than prior generations were. In millennials’ eyes, earning potential exists alongside important personal and social values, so their ideal workplace equitably balances the two.
  • Positive Reinforcement – There’s no shortage of advice for managers, offering strategies to motivate employees. Like other demographics, fine-tuning your approach with millennials can help with engagement and staff fulfillment. While everyone appreciates a pat on the back, members of the millennial generation feed on positive feedback.

The millennial generation is a labor force to be reckoned with. The sizable cadre of young professionals now occupies a prominent place in American small business. Learning to embrace and nurture millennials’ strengths can help your business find success today, and into the generation’s future.

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