Big transformations lie ahead for leadership according to the 2015 Deloitte Millennial Survey – Executive summary, “Mind the Gaps.” The younger generation is aligned with its current leaders’ priority of “ensuring the long-term future of the organization.” Beyond this, however, Millennials place far greater emphasis on employee wellbeing and employee growth and development. With the workforce rapidly moving from Boomers to Millennials, Boomers are no longer the controlling force in the employee category and their values, methods of communication and operating systems are rapidly giving way to the new millennial generation workforce. This diversity within is causing much chaos, reducing the wellbeing of all. The research states Millennials believe that an organization’s treatment of its employees is the most important consideration when deciding if it (the organization) is a leader.
Are companies strategically prepared for this tsunami shift in the workforce?
High Maintenance or Soft Touch
The up-and-coming generation of employees at first glance seems high maintenance, brash, demanding and opinionated – especially when it comes to relating to the boomer generation of leaders and associated employees. But a closer look reveals a new generation that is worried about stressors like health care cost, their own personal health and how their workplace environment adversely contributes to their wellbeing. Along with this comes a long laundry list of concerns such as job insecurity, long hours, little autonomy and the perception of an unfair workplace as noted in 2015 reports by Harvard and Stanford Universities.
The next few decades will see a huge emphasis placed on the workplace environment, how it impacts the workforce and how to improve it. Leadership will be forced to actually look at the workplace environment from all angles and evaluate not only what is the best for the company but what also serves the employees the best. A recent Gallup global study showed that 13 percent of employees are engaged in their jobs, while 63 percent are not engaged and 24 percent are actively disengaged. Change must come quickly to empower Millennials to be part of the engaged group instead of becoming actively disengaged because they are bored, aren’t communicated with according to their standards or overly stressed.
Create a Workplace Environment that Enhances Wellbeing
Reduce Stress – Create a workplace environment that eliminates distractions, reduces chaos and noise, providing an empty canvas, so to speak, which will empower and engage employees while improving their wellbeing. You create such environments by:
- Using specific colors on the walls – for example, light green or blue are very calming yet enhance the flow of productivity.
- Paying specific attention to the way the flow of focus moves throughout your organization and removing barriers and distractions that obstruct its flow – for example, if two departments work closely together don’t separate them by miles of walls, cubicles and red tape.
- Placing equipment and locating people for efficiency, to save time and to have immediate access – for example, place the department head within the team not in an inaccessible ivory tower office.
Engage the Workforce in the Process – Do not try making such changes in a vacuum. Whereby Boomers waited to be told what fire to extinguish and how, the Millennials want to be part of the process. They want to be heard and make a meaningful difference. The best way to reduce the 63 percent unengaged and increase the 13 percent engaged is to make them part of the solution.
Incorporate all forms of engagement from team meetings and think tanks to anonymous electronic communications. Create a sense of trust and confidentiality up front by stating that no idea is wrong, too small or too “out there.”
Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Boomers often felt left in the dark when decisions were made and rarely questioned them but not the Millennials. They are the instant generation, instant food, instant communications and instant rewards. They want to know the what, when, where, why and how — and they want it now. Even more important, they want feedback – not the pat-on-the-back type but real time feedback about the quality and quantity of their work and how it can be improved. They want direct and open lines of communication and they want the naked truth when it comes to performance.
The challenge for leadership is to be attentive enough to notice shifts in performance and thinking; they need to correct or applaud that when they get a chance. The opportunity is at the very moment you notice the shift – stop for one minute and provide the feedback right then. Remember, Millennials also are the tech generation and use their electronic gadgets as work tools, therefore are also open to communication through their favored form of media. Employee performance, engagement and wellbeing will improve.
A major shift descending upon the workplace can be overwhelming and seem unmanageable if you are not prepared. When leadership is prepared to deal with such change not only does it improve the wellbeing of the employee, it also reduces stress and improves the wellbeing of its leaders.
© Pat Heydlauff, all rights reserved 2015
Pat Heydlauff, a “flow of focus” expert, speaker and consultant designs workplace environments that fuel the flow of focus, maximizes productivity and yields future sustainability. She is author of the forthcoming book, Focus • Connect • Regenerate 7 Ways to Lead and Fuel Sustainability and published books, Feng Shui, So Easy a Child Can Do It, The Way We Go, Your Roadmap to a Better Future and Selling Your Home with a Competitive Edge. Contact her at 561-408-2708 or www.engagetolead.com.Share