If You Can’t Beat Millennials, Join Them
Companies have been trying for the last 10 years to figure out how best to adapt to a Millennial-centered workplace. It looks like the best strategy may be to meet them where they already are, rather than waiting for them to come to you. A clinical staffing agency called LiquidAgents Healthcare is doing just that, according to reporting by Ed Bradach in Modern Healthcare.
The company offers acceptance of the constant need for smartphone interaction that some would say plagues Millennials, but others would say could be turned into an advantage. LiquidAgents took the approach of making it possible for its employees to communicate via text for work: “Employees normally check if their boss is in the vicinity when they’re about to text, but at LiquidAgents Healthcare, staff are expected to be on their phones frequently. The Plano, TX, clinical staffing agency’s clients like to communicate via text, so in June it implemented a tool to text job applications. After they reply, it’s automatically saved into the company’s system.” The company makes it easy to keep those smartphones charged, as it offers USB plugs instead of standard electrical outlets at workstations.
Millennials get some relief from the huge student loan debt that follows so many of them into adulthood as LiquidAgents offers company-supported financial workshops. If this seems like a burdensome cost to your organization, consider that an employee weighed down by worry about student debt will be less present for you and your customers. They also will be more likely to put added pressure on your company for salary increases. A manageable debt could possibly give employees who love their job the security to stay in it at the current pay, rather than feeling the stress to look for ever-higher-paying positions elsewhere.
Millennials are known to be a collaborative generation, used to communal sharing through social media, so employees probably welcome LiquidAgents’ “open-door policy” and weekly “all-hands meetings” with updates on company happenings and the celebration of employee achievement.
It’s a funny thing, but as a Generation Xer myself, I would find these frequent meetings a chore, preferring to only hear about company news that will impact my own job. On a side note, I wonder, if a company has these frequent meetings, should they be optional to avoid annoying those who don’t care for that much sharing?
With collaboration and group projects in mind, LiquidAgents also has a community garden for employees to work at something together that many feel passionately about. I’d like a workplace garden myself—but a private one in a sealed-off cubicle with a place in the wall of the cubicle where plants and flowers could be stuck in soil to grow toward me or toward the ceiling.
The efforts of a company like LiquidAgents to reach out to Millennials underscores what a collaborative, hyper-extroverted generation Millennials are. As you reach out to Millennials, how do you avoid alienating older employees, and those Millennials who are introverts and prefer to work independently?
My ideal is the collaborative-by-choice workplace in which everything LiquidAgents has done for Millennials is available, but only if you want it. That means retractable cubicle walls you can draw up and down as desired. If you’re an extroverted, constant-collaboration-loving Millennial you can leave them down at all times. If you’re a cranky, introverted Generation Xer like myself, you can keep them up.
Similarly, you could have many meetings to give updates about the company and talk long-term vision, but the majority of these meetings would be optional, with a digital recording of the meeting available online if you want to listen to it on your own.
There would be incentives to do good in your community, whether you choose to do good along with a group of co-workers, or on your own (needing a break from said co-workers). That means that while the community garden outside the office may not appeal to me, I might like to contribute help to a community garden in a different location, perhaps in a struggling nearby community.
Collaboration and sharing is a joy when it’s voluntary and a choice that makes you feel connected to colleagues and customers. As companies reach out to Millennials, it’s important to remember that not everyone—even some Millennials—are into constant interaction and sharing. Maybe a turtle culture is best—one in which you give employees opportunities to connect, and also a great shell to retreat into for shelter and introspection.
What changes has your company made to accommodate Millennials? How have you ensured that those changes don’t alienate others in your workforce?