How to Build Real Trust With Your Millennial Workforce

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Apr 12, 2013

Millennials, the generation born between 1980 and 2000, are entering the workforce at huge numbers.

They’re the biggest generation since the Baby Boomers, but they want something different than the generations before. Millennials are perceived as being entitled and fickle, but they’re actually just unwilling to compromise long term principles for short term gain.

If you manage Millennials you’ve probably scratched your head a few times with this technology-driven generation. It can seem like a tall order to build the kind of trust that’s necessary to build a team when Millennials seem so different from the established workforce.

Building trust with Millennials doesn’t have to be difficult when you understand what’s important to them and build a culture that dovetails with their view of work:

  • Personal growth instead of organizational needs;
  • An interesting career;
  • Opportunities to make a difference;
  • Open communication;
  • Cooperative interdependence;
  • Moving up (or they’ll move on);
  • Flexibility at work;
  • Better work-life balance;
  • Encouragement and regular recognition;
  • Employing technology to reduce workplace friction; and,
  • Technology integration at work.

Building trust

Millennials will know you trust them, and will therefore reciprocate, if you are open about the importance of their contribution to the team and the organization. Give them the visibility into how their daily tasks make the whole company function.

Millennials detest a silo. Remove the barriers that keep people from knowing how their job relates to the greater whole.

It is critical that your company has their technology up to snuff if you want to build trust with your Millennials. You will lose their respect if your WiFi doesn’t work, if their computer time is monitored, if social media sites are blocked, or if any technology is outdated.

You can’t fool a Millennial; they know a company with poor technology integration is doomed and they will jump ship. Any company with a limited view on technology is bound to have trouble attracting and keeping Millennials (or most employees for that matter).

Use your Millennials for their technology prowess. You can build trust by asking them for their insight into your technological processes.

Work-life balance is essential

Ask for their input on how they could use available technologies to streamline work and procedures. You may be surprised at the types of technologies out there and how much easier your work lives could be with some new integration.

Work-life balance is non-negotiable for Millennials. If your company doesn’t have flexible work schedules, and isn’t willing to at least consider them, you may have trouble even attracting Millennials.

The very idea of flexibility is one of trust. You must trust that your employee can get the work done, regardless of when and where that work takes place. You can build trust with your Millennials by trusting that they’ll do the work they need to do when it needs to be done.

More than any other generation, Millennials respond to the power of encouragement and recognition. They grew up with participation trophies and medals for the whole team.

Build trust with your Millennials by demonstrating your gratitude for their accomplishments. Regular recognition efforts keep Millennials happy and performing. They need encouragement almost more than any other generation, and you can provide it.

What have been your greatest challenges and triumphs while working with Millennials?

This was originally published on the OC Tanner blog.

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