How Cultivating A Millennial Culture Can Benefit Your Business - It has become almost cliché to complain about the motivations and expectations of millennial workers, or even steps senior leaders can take to handle these employees. Is this generation actually problematic, or do they just respond less receptively to conventional workplace norms? In my experience, the latter is true, and employers may want to consider some unconventional approaches to motivate them. Just as growth-oriented firms have every incentive to adapt to changing customer demands, they also should adapt to the changing demands of their emerging talent.

Although I am firmly in the Generation X camp, 47% of my organization is millennials, and half of them are in key leadership positions. To adapt, the company had to empower and provide independence to them, which helped cultivate an impressive work ethic. The ways in which the company set out to do that included having no set workday hours, no commute to the office required and no assigned tasks. These strategies have worked well for my company, and I believe other businesses can benefit from them, as well.

No Set Workday

An “outcome-based” schedule empowers millennial workers by freeing them from the tyranny of the time clock or forcing them to stare at a blank screen until 5:02 p.m. when they have already accomplished all set initiatives.

I’ve found that a surprising number of young professionals excel when they can log on in the middle of the night, at the crack of dawn or at noon, depending on their workload and whatever else they have going on in their lives at the time. I believe when considering a work-life balance, life should take precedence as long as it does not jeopardize work.

A “no set workday” policy expands the acceptable window of when work can be done and leads to greater efficiency. Many would believe that this results in fewer hours and less work completed, but I have seen the opposite. My company’s millennial workforce started taking fewer PTO hours and arriving earlier and staying later at the office, on top of hours devoted to work outside the office. A culture that focuses on outcomes delivered, not a set work day, satiates company initiatives and employee adherence.

No Commute Required

If you want your best people to come to the office, it’s your responsibility to create a work environment where people don’t want to miss a day. To those companies that do not allow employees to work from home based on the fear that no work will get done, ask yourself why you would trust your employees with your sensitive company information when they are in the office, but you don’t trust them enough to manage their time and get work done.

On the other hand, a great office environment can be a bonus for millennials — especially when the firm builds on camaraderie and finds ways to have fun whenever possible. Focus on creating work-related events that celebrate each season, such as events centered around holidays or the NCAA basketball tournament pool, or having MLB day games on in the office whenever possible in the summer. (But do not insult your staff with the cliche ping-pong table.)

No Assigned Tasks

Rather than assigning a task to one or two individuals, send an email stating the end goal of the project, and let them decide who takes on each project. This lies at the heart of what helps a company retain millennial talent. Based on my experience, one of the largest motivating factors for millennials is the ability to grow their personal brands through new skills and experiences. By offering such chances, you build better employees in the short term as well as retain your millennial talent. They will not feel as if they have plateaued, which is a major cause of discontentment with career progress.

Not only are you likely to see productivity ramp up upon implementing a “no assigned tasks” policy; you probably will get a better handle on who deserves a promotion or is integral to the growth of your business. An additional bonus is that by laying out the desired result without stating how that end result should be reached, you can perform process management at the same time to improve efficiencies.

The Caveat

While the above may seem all flowers and rainbows, if your personnel requires intensive management, they are not a fit for this type of environment. My organization has managed out individuals who cannot manage themselves. Your young talent has grown up in a different era. To attract, motivate and retain the best of the millennial generation, your business should operate in ways that work for them and for your organization.

The Bottom Line

By building a team of loyal and productive young workers, your firm cultivates an attractive culture for new recruits. The key is finding staff who value the prompt and accurate completion of tasks, come up with forward-thinking ideas and are willing to put in the time to gain the experience that merits higher compensation in the future. The bottom line: Motivating and retaining millennial talent has the potential to lead to increased efficiency and lower employee turnover, which combined can benefit an organization’s profitability. A flexible and fun working environment is a small price to pay for that upside.

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