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How to better engage millennials (and why they aren't really so different)

Rich Hein | June 13, 2013
Millennials aren't so different... when you get down to the core principles of what millennials want in the workplace, they want what any good employee would want from his or her employer.

Create Internal Leadership Programs: This goes along with career succession or mapping. You can't expect employees to do it all on their own. If you want to develop great future leaders than you need to create programs that instruct and enlighten. "Leadership and development programs work really well in companies like Raytheon, GE and a lot of other companies, because they get millennials moving around to different groups and departments," says Schawbel.

Create Workplace Flexibility: No doubt about it, millennials want to work where and when they want. Experts agree they don't want to be tied to the office or to the 9-5 grind that so many of us are used to.

"Millennials feel like there is no direct correlation between the level of work or output they have and whether they are sitting in their office where you can see them. They feel like 'if I'm doing a great job here, I can do it from anywhere' and it's difficult to argue with that when you have so many remote teams and remote environments that are working," says Rucker.

The answer to this quandary is that employers need to come up with a different way of measuring their employee's success. Being in your assigned place every day doesn't make you a great employee; completing projects and hitting deadlines does. "Take the brilliance that they have and create base delivery models so that you can tie their productivity into meeting deadlines and deliverables as opposed to have them sitting in a seat every day," says Rucker.

Use Mentoring/Reverse Mentoring or Pairing: There is a lot of value in creating a mentoring or reverse mentoring program within your company. If you find a way to do it properly you'll get innovation and expertise combined with out-of-the-box thinking.

According to the experts, if you can create a mentoring situation where the millennials are treated as valuable and you treat the veterans as valuable, then you can create an idea lab or think tank environment where issues are discussed more broadly. According to Rucker, employers who approach it from this perspective will wind up on top.

"There is an incredible amount of value in employees who have been there five or 10 years. The thinking is perhaps they are sedentary, but in reality they know the business very well , they know who your customers and competition are, the dirt on your industry and what it takes to be successful. When you pair them with a millennial who understands the new culture, the new technology and new ways of thinking it can be impactful. They could explain that something the company is about to spend millions on can be done with a $2 app," says Rucker.


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