Creativity Out of Chaos: Millennials Thrive in an Open Work Culture

Investing in the success of Millennials isn’t a request or a dilapidated plea to appease the emerging workforce anymore.

Millennials are a critical  part of the current workforce, and 30 percent of high-growth companies say the young professionals even have leadership positions in their organizations.

In order to recruit the best of the best, and furthermore retain the best of the best, organizations have to cater to the developmental and professional needs of Gen Y employees.

Adapting the work environment to Millennial needs

Communication and transparency on their level might seem like a difficult endeavor when traditional mediums like email and the hierarchical structures have been around for decades. Incorporating some changes into your organization will allow for creativity out of chaos when you need to structure the workday for a Millennial workforce.

What happens when you adapt the work environment to the needs of the emerging professional work ethic might surprise you. Studies have shown that tactics like work-flex time, telecommuting, ROWE, unlimited vacation time can all positively affect productivity, engagement and the culture of an organization.

Unfortunately, not all companies are set up to handle these alternative work environments. Whether your Millennials are in the office or outside, here’s how you can structure their days:

Communication

While the traditional business is structured around email and formal meetings as the standard for communication, Millennials aren’t necessarily as keen on all of the formality. Hiring managers are aware of their disconnect as 38 percent agree that Millennials aren’t used to the standard working environment.

Compared to a few decades ago, our attention spans have shortened with the barrage of information, and technology has responded to that — except email.

Although it is still a viable means of communication, the way we use email has to change in response to the needs of emerging professionals. The notion employees will absorb the novel-length email you sent just isn’t a plausible outcome anymore. Louise Evans, Global Director of Communications & Marketing at Dentsu Aegis Network, said:

It’s no good sending a long email saying ‘We’ve done A, B and C, and now we’re going to do X, Y and Z.’ People won’t read it – they don’t have the time or the energy, and Generation Y aren’t used to absorbing information in that quantity.”

Evans continues to say how important it is to consider their terms when communicating. At the core of changing how email is used (in bite-sized pieces) isn’t even for the benefit of Gen Y. In order to clearly communicate business needs, goals and priorities have to be translated into a language that employees as a whole understand and can digest.

Whether you implement standing meetings, Skype sessions, recorded calls, an instant messaging system for work or any number of communication alternatives, keep in mind that it has to work for all your employees. The most innovative companies have two or three methods of communication and the keen manager will discover which works best for those in his or her department.

Trusting through transparency

Transparency in the workplace will make it much easier for managers to guide Millennials and structure their day while giving them a sense of freedom.

With that transparency comes a mutual respect between Millennials and their supervisors and a spark of passion for the work. A transparent and trusting culture in the workplace gives employees the freedom to innovate day-to-day.

However, unlike their predecessors, Gen Y employees aren’t very trusting. Only 19 percent say people can be trusted in general, so it may be harder to instigate that creativity unless a trusting relationship began during the recruitment process. In order to maintain a good relationship with employees from the candidate stage to employee maturation, companies must maintain transparency.

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Managers have to maintain a certain level of transparency with their Millennial employees because they are an entrepreneurial generation. More than half (56 percent) of emerging markets operate in a transparent manner, compared to 40 percent of established markets. Because the young generation thrives on transparency, organizations are becoming more transparent as they begin to take supervisory positions.

How can you “be” a transparent company? It starts with one — one manager, one team, one department.

Do your best to discourage gossip and unnecessary back and forth and keep your colleagues and employees informed when news comes up that may affect them. While you don’t have to follow the lead of companies like Buffer (who post the salaries of every person who works for them online) you may want to release some non-essential information from your clutches to earn the trust of your direct reports.

The creative part

Allowing communication and feedback with Millennials to be transparent increases their intrinsic ownership of daily projects and subsequently, their investment in the organization and it’s values.

More than three-quarters of the generation is influenced by an organization’s innovation and they are influenced by the creativity of their Gen X supervisors. To see the best results from Millennial productivity and innovation, take the following steps:

  • Plan ahead — Especially useful in setting long-term goals for the young professionals, planning ahead for daily tasks that culminate into a large project helps managers to strategically guide Millennial progression throughout the day and for the duration of the project.
  • Lead by example — Millennial employees want to work for innovative companies, and their supervisors and mentors are the ones who expose them the most to the company’s values. Foster their innovation through innovation yourself through thought and action.
  • Find similarities — Focusing on the generational differences in the office can cause a greater rift than the differences themselves. Instead, find the similarities to construct a more collaborative office.

The need to create an open culture

Millennials were raised differently than previous generations. While they do crave some sort of workplace freedom, they still need structure to their workday.

It may require changes in communication or transparency, but in the end it results in maintenance of their innovative aspirations.

Millennials want a work environment in which they can spend time on things they value. Set clear parameters that allow those who accomplish organizational goals to set some time aside to work on pet projects.

By creating an open culture, setting firm and fair expectations and building relationships throughout the organization, you will be able to structure the work product and internal culture at your company.

Kelly Robinson first showcased his entrepreneurial spirit as a co-founder of a technical staffing firm in the United Kingdom. He then launched Broadbean, a recruitment and sourcing technology firm in 2001. Robinson has grown Broadbean into a global powerhouse and with an incredible team, built a suite of products that make recruitment easier.

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