Millennials make up the largest segment of the workforce, yet many companies haven’t adjusted their employee communications accordingly. Here are three easy steps to help you engage these hyper-connected employees without alienating others in today’s multigenerational workplace:
1. Engage each generation on its own terms. For example, Traditionalists born before 1946 prefer talking face to face, whereas Baby Boomers prefer phone contact and have no problem leaving voicemails. On the other hand, Gen X avoids voicemail like the plague, preferring email; millennials prefer contact via text or collaboration tools such as #slack or GroupMe.
Internal communicators should realize who they’re trying to get messages to and what timeline they’d like to meet,” says Kristin Scroggin, GenWHY Communication Strategies founder and University of Alabama communication arts instructor. ” For the quickest contact and response, choose the method the employee most likely checks based on age.”
2. Study millennial hot buttons and third rails. Millennials can have a dramatically different perspective of what they want in a workplace engagement experience. Seventy-eight percent of millennials say they “work to live, not live to work,” says Scroggin, citing her firm’s January survey. Millennials are demanding the work-life balance the rest of us have just moaned about for years. That means we need to implement strategies that keep workers purpose-focused and engaged.
You can go a long way toward achieving this by avoiding these common mistakes:
- Expecting millennials to toe the line. They won’t conform, and they are the majority (47 percent of the population is under 33), says Scroggin. They’ve rejected the settling down’ path of marrying early, buying a house and starting to have kids right away so why do we think they’ll magically conform to our current workstyle?
- Sacrificing quality for the sake of rules. Millennial employees turn over every 18 months due to conflicts over rules that don’t really make sense anymore, she adds. Why are you firing a good nurse over a nose-ring? Why are you talking to one employee about last night’s game for 45 minutes and then firing another for coming in five minutes late?
3. Get collaborative embrace messaging and souped-up intranets. Collaborative software is key to engaging millennials and younger employees, Scroggin says. If they’re addicted to social media and we know they are then you want to re-route that desire toward internal communication instead of external. She recommends getting started with collaborative messaging apps like #Slack, GroupMe or Remind.com.
What features do millennials now expect in full-blown intranets?
Millennials thrive on transparency, according to Scroggin. “They do better when they know exactly what their jobs are and how they fit into everyone else’s. That’s why they want things like open chat, an ability to see deadlines and clear to-do lists.
Brian Pittman is a Ragan Communications consultant and webinar manager.