How To Ensure Millennials Are Progressing And Developing
Millennials, or Generation Y, are the employees in your firm who are under the age of 35. Born and raised in the digital age, they have different characteristics and requirements to their older counterparts. This series of articles looks at these characteristics and how to get the best from this emerging talent.
We have already looked at millennials’ affinity with technology, and how this impacts on their desire for, and ability to have, a good work-life balance. Another key characteristic is their strong desire for career progression and development.
Many of us are keen on progress and development in our careers, but millennials put it right at the top of their priority list. Research by PWC found that the number one benefit that millennials valued at work was personal development. Flexible working hours was second and cash rewards were down in third place. That’s how important it is to them. Career progression is also really important to this ambitious generation who are keen to move quickly up the ladder – 52% said that career progression was the number one attraction to an employer, ahead of salaries at 44%.
So how can you keep these young and hungry employees happy, especially when career progression opportunities are scarce?
Help them grow
Really try to understand what your millennials’ development goals are. I believe that performance reviews should be held at least twice annually and should present an opportunity for your colleague to tell you about what they have achieved and want to achieve, rather than you just giving feedback. Make it conversational and really listen. Help them set goals which are challenging and stretching and give them a sense of progressing and moving forward. You may want to consider rotating employees to give them fresh challenges and learning opportunities without having to offer a promotion (remember this isn’t about money!). If no such opportunities arise, challenge them to strive for new performance levels or efficiencies in their current role.
A simple but effective strategy might be to set up a mentoring scheme where more experienced members of staff offer to mentor millennial employees. This can be in a range of topics specifically relating to your firm, or more generally in the area of career progression. Millennials love face-to-face conversations about their development, and respect experience more than job titles.
Show them the way
Many organisations fail to clearly set out what development opportunities or career paths exist. This is a huge turn off for millennials. If it’s possible to become a partner or director (or CEO) one day then explain how. There is often artistic license involved in these promotions but, frankly, it should be a science with specific criteria. This will benefit the organisation as a whole as promotion decisions become a whole lot easier when there is a checklist of criteria!
As an employer of millennials, be mindful of their desire for development and progression and try to set out clear paths and challenging goals. Offer ongoing and constructive feedback and consider a mentoring scheme to help them along. Done in the right way, this could really benefit both employee and employer.