There is no doubt that the workplace tide is changing significantly in terms of the needs and expectations of the new Millennial Generation or ‘Millennials’ as they are known. The old ways of management are redundant and any business slow or unwilling to change and adapt to this new expectation will no doubt find themselves starved of talent.
A recent BBC article highlighted Virgin’s ‘experimental day’, going back to the old days of corporate working. Everyone arriving and leaving at rigid hours, suits and ties to be worn and a blanket ban on the use of social media for everyone. It was a pretty miserable day for everyone concerned and the headlines are clear about what’s next for this new generation in the workplace.
Firstly, it not so much about the money. Millennials want personal and skills development and they want to know how they are contributing to the bigger picture, so an awareness and connection with the organisation’s vision and values are imperative. And it’s not just about knowing what those values are, companies need to be living by them, not just saying, but doing also. A value that seems to be generically strong and sought after is honesty and transparency in their daily workplace conversations. Whether it’s peer to peer, or manager to report, the importance for the truth to be discussed is pivotal and of course only achievable when there is absolute trust across a team.
Alongside of this, micro management and over control is a real turn off, people want to be given the autonomy and responsibility to make their own decisions, don’t tell but ask and harness the ideas, passion and energy that this new generation can bring. Offer choices and give real flexibility in people shaping their own environment, do they wear a suit or dress down? Do they work from home or come into the office? Do they start early and finish early? Offering choice and flexibility for people to build their own environment rather than be dictated to, makes people safe, engaged and up for coming to work.
This sense of valuing every employee is well modeled by Air BnB, a company that every fortnight across its 20 offices has a live streamed meeting discussing the most important aspects of the company at that moment. On top of this there is an annual trip to San Francisco for everyone, with a focus on meeting, connecting and building trusting working relationships with colleagues across the business.
The contrast is stark between the old ways of command and control and the new expectations, a common thread basically coming down to treating people like adults. Give them the freedom to be creative, think for themselves and make decisions, whilst creating the environment that will allow that and nurture people to feel safe, willing and able to contribute in a regular and proactive way.