Millennials bring challenges, but also opportunity to your business

Earlier this year, Pew Research reported a huge change for the future of business that you may not have noticed. As of April 2016, millennials overtook baby boomers as the largest generation in the workforce. It’s a development that will change the way we lead and manage our companies for years to come.

Are we ready as business owners? Based on recent Gallup polls showing that millennials are the least engaged generation in the workplace, it appears many are not.

I often hear leaders lament the differences of millennials by saying that they lack the same work effort of previous generations, are asking “why” before jumping into any assignment and rely on text or email more than face-to-face or phone communications.

Here are direct ways you can begin tapping into the power of millennials today:

Make it easier for them to provide feedback. Many companies still use outdated methods for employees to provide feedback or suggestions for company improvement. Evaluate yours. Do you have an intranet that is always available for feedback? Do you have a scheduled monthly meeting where you receive opportunities for improvement from your team? Make sure everyone has a way to get information to you. The faster, the better.

Embrace the ‘why’ questions. Many millennials want to understand how individual assignments tie to the overall company goals or, even more broadly, to an improvement in society.  These questions are great opportunities to pause and validate your plans by giving them a second thought, or even open them up for debate.

Listen to the feedback you receive. Millennials are used to everything around them changing constantly, especially in regards to anything related to the digital customer experiences. Where they may have less business experience, they are true digital natives and can serve as canaries in the coalmine of managing digital transactions with your customers. Use their feedback wisely.

Allow them to implement the ideas. When you receive feedback or suggestions, do your best to make them a part (or the owner) of implementing a suggestion. Be direct about timing and budget expectations and give them some autonomy to get it done. It’s likely to breed an additional level of engagement in the organization.

As with all generations, millennials are different and provide a unique set of strengths and challenges. The ones who learn to harness those strengths and work through those challenges are going to attract a steady flow of some of the smartest and most capable leaders to their businesses for a long time, paving the way for great opportunity. Those that don’t may have a very difficult transition through the ever-changing economy. ●

Sam Falletta is CEO at Incept Corp.