Creating a fun, laid-back working environment has been touted as one way of attracting and retaining millennials. But beyond a fancy office with a pool table and a lounge, there is more to keeping millennials engaged, and this is mainly based on how you engage this demographic. As employers across the country are now realizing, millennials are not just comfortable with clocking in and out and getting the job done, they want to be a meaningful part of the organization and they are demanding for more than just a fancy working environment.
Granted, the difference in their work ethic, communication styles, and preferred working styles seem complicated to those from previous generations. However, research indicates that millennials are just as ambitious, hardworking, talented, and eager, as previous generations. The only difference is that millennials have a different way of working, which many employers are struggling to understand.
The best way to engage this demographic is to, therefore, communicate with them genuinely and actively, to gain a deeper understanding of what works with them and what doesn’t. Here are tips on how to communicate better with millennials and build strong working relationships.
Embrace the Use of Technology
Face-to-face communication and endless meetings were often the most trusted forms of communication in the past. This was only substituted by emails and official communication channels. However, millennials are ditching these forms of communication for something faster and more interactive. Anything that can be said without writing a long email or holding a 2-hour meeting will be said without the two.
The rise of social media and chat channels has further made this easy, as communication can now happen on the go. Therefore, millennials appreciate the use of modern communication channels as has been made possible by the rise in technology. Channels such as Slack and Skype are a common feature in many workplaces, as they ease communication and help people collaborate without carving out time for meetings.
According to millennials, emails should only be used where it is absolutely necessary and meetings should only be held where they are the best option. Anything else can and should be said through other channels. On the other hand, the rise of modern communication channels has made it possible for millennials to communicate on the go. This means that employers must embrace open communication channels which facilitate this kind of communication, to keep millennials engaged and facilitate collaboration.
2. Avoid Jokes About Age and Experience
Condescending and insensitive jokes about age demonstrate that one does not appreciate the value that millennials bring on board. Saying things like “I was doing this before you were born”, or “You are too young to understand this” just does not sit well with millennials. The changes in technology are an indication that it is not business as usual and interestingly, the millennials own the technologies now being used at the workplace. The application of these technologies is the difference between success and failure. Therefore, bringing age into an argument indicates that you do not appreciate the skills that they possess and which are valuable to the organization. Millennials will easily leave if they don’t feel valued and respected, which makes employers lose out on their skills and expertise.
3. Get them Actively Involved
There are many things happening around millennials, facilitated by the numerous communication channels around them and other sources of information. Their attention is, therefore, highly segmented. One way of getting their attention is to get them to be actively involved in what you are doing. This enables them to also voice their ideas and opinions.
Millennials are not comfortable with just being told what they should do. They want to take an active role in the decision-making process and to have their ideas being taken into account. They are not comfortable with being passive at the workplace and having open communication channels does the trick as they get to voice their opinions. This also encourages them to be creative, which boosts their productivity.
4. Be Brief and Meaningful
Millennials represent a demographic that can communicate in 280 characters and make perfect sense. The vast majority of Kenyan cultures have communication styles that are lengthy, indirect, and in some cases unnecessary. With millennials being used to communicating on the go and saying what needs to be said in a few words, it is no wonder that they find lengthy meetings and emails boring. This is backed up by science which shows that people’s attention spans are getting shorter.
If you want millennials to pay attention, learn how to communicate quickly and effectively. Make use of technology to assist you and always strive to get straight to the point. Long, winding tales will dilute the communication and this will affect how your message is received and translated. The more concise your message, the easier will it be for it to be received and acted upon accurately.
5. Be Honest
If you ask a millennial a question, what you are likely to get is an honest and straightforward answer. In some instances, the person is likely to be so honest that the answer will not be comfortable. But they have mastered the art of getting straight to the point, which is an aspect of being brief in communication. This does not sit well with people used to long, diplomatic and often dodgy communication styles.
This is based on the need to build trust with the people they relate with and they thus, do not appreciate sugar-coated messages. In return, they also expect honest communication, which helps them in improving their productivity. On the other hand, always encourage them to provide feedback and pay attention to this feedback when it is provided.
Millennials are doing away with the old and charting their own paths. The old rules no longer apply to this disruptive generation and it is in every company’s best interest to pay attention. Notably, this demographic brings on board valuable skills which can catapult your organization to the next level. So you better pay attention to their needs and this can only happen by communicating better.