Best Way to Communicate With Millennials at Work
Posted on February 05, 2018 by Kristin Proctor
Millennials catch a lot of flak from older generations about their communication habits. The truth of the matter is, they have come of age in an era of new connective capabilities. The result is a major shift in communication habits. In contrast to older generations, millennials generally prefer to use apps on their phones and mobile devices to communicate instead of voicemails and phone calls. It’s annoying to those who are used to these traditional forms of contact, but it’s here to stay. The following are some of the best ways to communicate with millennials at work to get the best results.
1. Sometimes Texting Is Better
Texting. It’s something that was once a chore, and only used when you couldn’t reach somebody through voice call. Now, with the innovation of keyboards on cell phones, sending a text is quick and easy. And because millennials go nowhere without their smartphones, they’re available for a text at a moment’s notice.
While you may not be a fan of texting, millennials have no such reservation. This generation grew up with their fingers glued to their keyboards and gleefully leaped to the smartphone once it became available to them. What this means for you is getting used to the idea of texting instead of calling or emailing.
Texting may not be as bad as you think. It has the benefit of getting a response to your query more quickly than waiting for a phone call. It also takes up much less time than a phone call. Calling for clarification only takes a minute or so, but texting can accomplish the same thing in seconds.
You don’t need to be tech-savvy to organize virtual team-wide communication. Apps like Crew offer the speed of texting with increased simplicity and additional functions designed specifically for work. You can manage communications and schedules in one place the whole team can access. It’s a great tool for older generations and millennials alike.
2. Be Straightforward and Honest
When it comes to addressing the problems someone in this age group might be having with their job, don’t beat around the bush. You might be inclined to ramble on a bit or not be direct when it comes to telling them what they did wrong. It may have worked with older employees who needed the blow softened, but millennials are tougher than you might give them credit for.
Millennials tend to be more cynical than older generations because they’ve grown up in an era where media has bombarded them with negativity, where competition has become a primary part of the classroom experience, and where advancements in technology have created a social age where standing out is harder than ever.
Get straight to the point and tell them what’s on your mind. You’ll find that individuals in this age group deal well with plain language and may even find rambling language to be condescending.
3. Give Them Credit Where Credit Is Due
It’s a fact that workplace loyalty has all but disappeared. Younger people are not inclined to stay at their jobs for any longer than they have to. The fact of the matter is, employers have gotten used to treating their workforce as disposable, and the workforce has responded in kind. If you have gone to lengths to attract talent from this age group, you want to retain it. But if you treat them like they are not valued team members, they are far more likely to leave.
Remember: you made the effort to attract them, bring them into the workplace, and add them to your team. If you don’t acknowledge their contributions to their role, the project they are working on, or whatever it is you hire them for, they are not going to reward your efforts by staying with the company for long.
The solution is not to coddle them, but to let them know their work is appreciated. When someone feels like they’re a valued member of a team, or their work has value to their employer, they are far more likely to stay with the company.
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4. Respect Their Needs
There’s a shift in this generation compared to previous ones with how they view their life/work balance. They saw their parents and grandparents spending most of their daily lives at their jobs and having little time for their personal needs. In contrast to their reputation as a group of slackers, millennials will go the distance for their employers, often accepting heavy workloads as saying no to an employer can make them seem expendable.
That said, millennials are more likely to ask for time off during times older generations might find strange. While saying no might be difficult for many millennials, they’re less afraid to push the boundaries of traditional workplace culture. For example, they may ask for time off unrelated to any special event or even champion more flexible schedules. This isn’t to party so much as it’s to organize their life so work is not the singular center. They’re conscious of workers’ rights and recognize the need to relax for their own personal health.
This doesn’t mean you need to put your neck on the line to let them take a break, but you should take into consideration their personal needs when they bring them up. If you can give them the time off without affecting the rest of your operation, do it. It’s beneficial for everyone in the long run. The more rested your staff is, the better their productivity is. There’s nothing magical or fake science about it; a rested mind and body create better work. Respecting the needs of your staff to get rested and simply have time off helps you generate loyalty from the younger employees.
When it comes down to it, millennials aren’t much different than the generations that came before them. They’re just more tech-savvy with computers and smartphones at their disposal, more aware of their Constitutional rights such as freedom of speech, and more willing to stand up for themselves. You might have to make a shift in your thinking when it comes to communicating with them, but they will work just as hard as anyone else to do the job you ask of them.