"How to Work with Millennials" according to the Cottonwood Heights Business Association
Oct 02, 2019 02:13PM
By Cassie Goff
Business owners listen intently for tips and tricks on how to manage, and possibly retain, millennial workers. (Cassie Goff/City Journals)
By Cassie Goff | [email protected]
With estimates showing that by next year about half of the American workforce will be millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996: now 23 to 38 years old), and 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, it’s important for employers and employees to know how to shape and maintain relationships with millennials. This was one of the many reasons the Cottonwood Heights Business Association (CHBA) hosted a workshop titled “Working with Millennials.”
“Millennials would rather work in a sandwich shop that gives away sandwiches to the homeless than in a shop where they get sandwiches for free all day,” said Cottonwood Heights Human Resource Director Paula Melgar. “It’s very important to them to have that purpose. They truly want to make an impact.”
After managing employees for over 15 years, Melgar has noticed a few other unique traits of the millennial workforce. “Millennials like to communicate a lot. They like to go to other departments to establish connections, have mentors, and give feedback. They want the big picture of what they are doing: they want the ‘whys.’”
CHBA chairman, and millennial himself, Bryce Drescher agreed with Melgar. “The reality is that they will find another job. You need to give them a buy-in. You need to give them the ‘why.’ If you can help them develop life skills, then you’re providing experience. Let them grow and figure things out. Employers should try to create a more lasting relationship than just that of your employee.”
“The best fit might not be where they are,” Melgar said. “It’s where they find their passion.” Drescher added to that sentiment. “It’s important to know what matters to them. What their future goals are.”
When interacting with employees or coworkers, a little positive reinforcement can go a long way. Both Melgar and Drescher suggested constantly telling employees and coworkers that they’re doing a great job.
One of the attendees asked if Melgar, or any other audience members, had any advice on how to keep millennials off their phones. Melgar’s response was that unless it’s interrupting their work, you shouldn’t.
“Millennials are amazing with technology,” Melgar said. She suggested employers utilize millennial’s pragmatic knowledge to pair it with older employees who have prior knowledge, and together they can create amazing things for the company.
In preparation for the workshop on Aug. 14, Melgar interviewed the millennials she currently works with. One of the most important things to her millennial employees is a work-life balance. Coincided, flexibility with their work schedule is crucial.
Melgar emphasized that a flexible schedule doesn’t mean they’re allowed to come in later and leave early. It means being more lenient when they are working at the office. She provided an example. Once, she had an employee who needed time off during the regularly scheduled work week to visit their doctors continuously for health concerns. Melgar and her employee compromised, concluding that if the employee worked longer on Tuesdays through Fridays, they could have Mondays off to take care of their doctor appointments and other needs.
“Millennials are a self-taught generation. They are fast learners and they are sharp. They are hard workers and can multitask like no one’s business,” concluded Melgar.
One of the take-home suggestions that emerged from the workshop was for employers to allow their employees to go out and do things with their coworkers. Some ideas for getting out of the office include hosting monthly department lunches or company parties.
In addition, as with all employees — not just millennials — employers are encouraged to “get to know your employees as individuals.” The CHBA suggests going on morning walks around the workspace to talk with people.
Along with positive reinforcement, Melgar suggests being specific. “Give them deadlines and be in constant communication.”