Some of my best friends today are former co-workers. For me, the people I work with are as important as the job I'm doing. That seems to be even more true for young workers today. They want work life balance and a life outside of work, but they also want their workplaces to feel like a second home. While we all may feel that way, millennials are more likely to quit if they don't have that type of work environment.
But workplaces can't afford for them to quit. We need them — their enthusiasm, their innovative ideas, their technology skills. So employers and managers are going to need to make some changes, to make their workplaces more fun and collaborative.
Today, in my Miami Herald column, I wrote about millennials and their definition of social workplaces. If you're making a good salary, is it less important that you like the people you work? If you have a great life outside of work, do you care whether your workplace feels like a second home?
Keeping millennial workers happy is just smart business
By Cindy Krischer Goodman
Each morning, Michelle Ingrosso, 22, huddles with her co-workers at Cirle, brainstorms with them on a blackboard, and chats with them online as the day unfolds. When the workday ends nine hours later, she often heads with them to dinner or for drinks.
The camaraderie, she says, is what she looks for from the people she works with and allows her to do a better job. “I’m not just an employee, I’m part of a team.”
Today, millennials like Ingrosso want to integrate their work and personal lives even more than previous generations. They want their workplaces to be like second homes, their co-workers to be their friends, and their bosses to be their workplace parents or mentors.
While the big push in creating social workplaces has centered on ice cream-making contests and costume competitions, experts say the future is going to require a more strategic approach to building a “fun” culture that encourages camaraderie, loyalty, and dedication.
Researchers say millennials’ expectations for social connections at work set them apart. A survey by Millennial Branding shows this young generation has a team-oriented focus and enjoys collaboration.
“They were on sports teams growing up where the teams were rewarded and want the same feeling in the workplace,” says Dan Schawbel, managing partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and management consulting firm. “If they are able to make friends at work, they are more likely to stay with your company and be happy doing so.”
There are significant business reasons why employers should want millennials to stay and be happy. The millennial generation — people born between 1982 and 1993 — numbers about 80 million in America, slightly larger than the baby-boomer generation. By 2025, millennials, also known as Gen Y, will account for more than 75 percent of the global workforce.
Employee engagement, particularly when it comes to millennials, is a top priority for businesses, such as accounting firm Ernst & Young, where 60 percent of its employees are young workers. Karyn Twaronite, EY Americas inclusiveness officer, says her organization has taken a proactive approach to managing its increasing millennial population.
“We try to put in more formalized opportunities for networking and teaming inside and outside of the office,” Twaronite says. For example, the firm encourages community involvement by teams and puts younger workers on projects involving more experienced staffers so they can expand their networks and look for mentors.
Nikolai De Leo, 25 and a staff member in the transaction advisory services practice at EY in Miami, says the payoff is big when companies foster more social interaction. “If you get to know someone on a personal level, you’re more open to their ideas or anything they would teach you on the professional side.”
Those deeper relationships, he says, are what will keep him at the firm. “Liking the people you work with is huge.” He finds getting to know a manager on a personal level also allows him more opportunity to earn trust, and that pays off, too. “You can have the freedom to operate independently and have a better workplace balance once you gain their trust.”
Through research, EY learned that its millennial workers want to be themselves at work, have their voices heard, and have give-and-take relationships that are not just work-focused with managers. “That’s incredibility important to them,” says Twaronite. Now, the firm is training its managers to respond and give more guidance, like a parent would, and show young workers a path to upward mobility. The firm also is coaching its Gen Ys to ask for specific feedback.