Millennials have been given the floor to express their opinions as they were growing up, both at home and in school. They’re also a generation raised on team projects and group scores. They were bound to show up at work expecting to have a voice and to have their opinions valued.
Managers from other generations might see this as presumptuous, especially when very new hires express opinions about things they don’t have much experience with yet. But another way to view Millennials is to recognize that many of them have highly developed skills for collaboration and cooperation—and those are skills that most workplaces value.
In fact, Millennials tell us in interviews that they understand not all their ideas will be actionable, but they want to know they’re making a contribution to the larger goals of the organization. In other words, they’re often just the kind of highly motivated self-starters that companies say they want to hire.
Recognizing this, U.S. Bank launched a new employee engagement project last year that’s aimed directly at Millennial employees. The Minneapolis company’s Dynamic Dozen is a group of 20-somethings chosen from across all of U.S. Bank’s divisions to serve as a sounding board for new company initiatives.
U.S. Bank’s chief strategy officer Mac McCullough says, “We are learning about this age group’s expectations as employees and consumers by seeing how they react to the questions we’ve posed.” At the same time, U.S. Bank is connecting some of its high-potential Millennial employees to the larger goals of the company so they can make a positive and significant contribution.
Of course, not every new hire will get to weigh in on the future direction of the company. But Millennials appreciate the opportunity to rub elbows with decision makers. Small accommodations when it comes to this and other traits of the Millennials can go a long way toward winning their talent and loyalty.
As we heard from Dale Till, a Millennial who was interviewed in our M-Factor survey, “At staff meetings, I am asked for my opinion, which is great . . . . I see my opinions listened to, considered, and some turned into actions. That keeps me here.”
In a survey conducted by the online job-search service CareerBuilder, 49 percent of employers surveyed said that the biggest gap in communication styles between workers 29 years old and younger and those who are older is that Millennial workers communicate more through technology than in person.
Ashley Strub, a Millennial surveyed for our M-Factor research, said, “The way we were taught, we were allowed to be more creative in our solutions. The most important thing to us is efficiency. So in the work we do, we are constantly trying to make things more efficient and faster. We want everything at our fingertips so we can get to the solutions right away.”
Meanwhile, as a Pew Research Center survey earlier this year shows, many older workers (note that the “Silent” generation in Pew’s survey is an approximate match for the “Traditionalists” in ours) still feel that technology is more of a hindrance than a help.