How to Communicate Effectively with Millennials

27 April 2018

Millennials, those born from the mid 1980’s to 2000, have become one of the most written about social groups in the last few years. Time Magazine called Millennials optimistic and pragmatic “at a time when it can be difficult just to get by”. They are technology oriented, inquisitive, and one of the most diverse generations we have ever seen. They are also everywhere in your workforce. Given that the methods of communication with millennials, their worldview and career expectations, are so distinct we wish to ask the question, how can business communicate effectively with them?

Millennials are often seen in the context of the generation who came before them, Generation X. They have been characterised negatively in the past by a generation of managers that have not been able to meet the challenge of communicating effectively with them. However, they are multitaskers, caring, community focused, politically engaged and the leaders of the “Entrepreneurial Generation,” according to a US Chamber of Commerce Foundation report.

This report states that Millennials have been subjected to a large degree of “instability in the workplace” and, as a result, “starting a business can look very appealing” to them. Millennials were the generation most affected by the financial crisis and as a result, don’t have the same desire to work for large companies as previous generations. Knowing how to harness the energy and potential of this entrepreneurial cohort can help to fast-track your business success.

Know, and Utilise, Technology

Millennials are famously glued to their smartphones and are heavy users of social media. Therefore, as a manager, it would be wise to to use online methods to communicate with these workers, where possible. According to a Nielsen report, 83% of the Millennial generation said they sleep with their smartphones so you can be sure you will always have their attention if you do go online with your communications.

There is still a lot of value in face-to-face communication with millennials but there are advantages to understanding younger workers. There has been an explosion of software applications that service this cultural shift and businesses are finding that greater efficiencies can be achieved by adopting technology. In their communication with millennials, businesses should be aware of their affinity for social media, smartphones and other software. This could give you a competitive advantage in organizing the workforce and communication with millennials.

Going digital as a company is a great way to make yourself more attractive to the Millennial workforce. For example, GoContractor digitizes the contractor management process, moving a crucial part of a business from paper-based to online. GoContractor orientations can be done on smartphone, tablet and pretty much any device with an internet connection.

Communicating with Millennials

Be Open as a Manager

Management processes are in continual flux with adaptability being a key trait. The key to managing a Millennial workforce is in adopting a more open and inclusive attitude than in the past. For younger workers, a top-down management style can be hard to cope with and may not get the best results in the long run. Millennials want to be heard, and more importantly, they want to be included in the decision making process within your company. Interactivity is key for this group which is why you should develop an open approach to management. If you adapt a more open approach to a Millennial, chances are you will reap results.

Open Office Structure

Millennials want openness in their physical environment, as much as they want it in their online world. According to Forbes, one New York based advertising firm set up a Millennial-only wing, where young workers could sit in a more open planned working environment. Having an open plan office removes pre-existing management structures, it promotes the use of open communication with millennials and ignites the ideas process.

In general, Millennials want easy access to other staff members, to feel part of the team, and to have a minimum amount of barriers in their working environment. The rise of coworking and alternative office spaces, such as WeWork, is evidence of how Millennials like working in an office environment, just not the traditional hierarchical office structure that existed in the past. Creating a more modern structure within your own company may be a way to engage your millennials and utilise their ideas for the benefit of the company also.

Making a Mark

Millennials want something great to believe in, for the employer this means knowing your company mission and communicating that effectively. They grew up watching other young people make a difference and believe they can too. Millennials will pull together under a simple company vision so why not use your company orientations to communicate that vision directly. According to research by the Brookings Institute, Millennials are more concerned with the advancement of a cause, and are less concerned with individual success. Employers need to be aware of this and cater to the interests of Millennials.

Millennials are more likely to be attracted to an organisation which is in pursuit of a cause. Heavy industry has a lot to offer in this area but its potential has been largely untapped. For instance, as Don Ward of Constructing Excellence explained at GoContractor’s Breakfast Briefing, construction is all about shaping the world of our future. The ability to create the sustainable, environmentally friendly future is appealing to Millennials and construction has more influence in this area than just about any other industry. The renewable energy sector is also growing rapidly and could be hugely attractive to young workers if it is targeted effectively.

We hope that these tips might help your organisation to respond to the new hiring landscape. Increased use of online communication with millennials, an open management style and the clear communication of company vision may not be the full list but they are a good start in getting your business up to speed!

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Jenny Snook

Jenny Snook is content executive at GoContractor with the job of researching the latest health and safety trends in the heavy industry. Her past-experience includes the research of large museum collections such as the Louth County Museum, many from the industrial age.

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