Savvy Peterson with the crowd at a SmartGrowth talk about millennials last month. - Photo: @SavIsSavvy
Savvy Peterson with the crowd at a SmartGrowth talk about millennials last month.

Photo: @SavIsSavvy

Millennials are the largest living generation, with more than 1 million Kiwis in this age bracket. With that in mind, here are the Rosie Dawson-Hewes’ easiest ways to get the best out of your millennial team, based on Savvy Peterson’s data and Rosie’s experience, as both a millennial employee and manager.

I don’t really like the term ‘millennial’. It has so many negative connotations, none of which I identify with. I hate selfies, I’m not entitled or lazy. I work hard and have always done so. But when Savvy Peterson spoke to a SmartGrowth meeting in March about what makes millennials tick, I found myself vigorously nodding in agreement. Maybe I am a millennial after all? So how are you, as employers, supposed to get the best out of us millennials?

NB: Obviously most of these are data-based generalisations, but you could use this as a starting point for a conversation with your resident millennial/s about how they like to be treated ...

According to Savvy, millennials want a sense of purpose from their job - it’s more important than money! We want to feel like we’re making a difference, part of something bigger than ourselves. A sense of community is really important to us.

This doesn’t mean we’re not willing to start at the bottom and work our way up. For me, this means I need to know what the bigger picture is. Make sure your millennials know what your company’s vision and mission are. If they can see how their role fits into what your company is doing for the community or its clients, they’re more likely to feel they have purpose.

Equally important is to make sure you show them there’s a future career path and a timeline to achieve it. We came into the workforce as the GFC hit, so we’re acutely aware of jobs and opportunities disappearing. But if we can see a clear path for our progression, once we’re ready for it, it will help keep us satisfied and working to achieve the company’s goals in the meantime. When I look back at my career, every time I’ve changed jobs or industry, it’s been because I didn’t feel my role had purpose or a future.

Savvy’s data showed that Kiwi millennials are most likely to change location, job and take a pay cut in favour of flexible working hours. We’d still like to be able to pay our bills of course, but flexibility matters. The nine to five doesn’t always work for us (though we also know it’s sometimes necessary!).

One of the SmartGrowth panellists, planner Grace Burman, said she likes to be given a workload and a deadline and it’s up to her how and when she completes that work. I completely agree. If, wherever possible, you let us decide which hours we work, we’re more likely to be content. To us, it doesn’t matter what hours you work as long as the job gets done. It means we’ll work longer hours when needed, but when possible and viable, we’ll also take off early for an afternoon surf or shop. When you give us clear expectations and a deadline, then leave how we manage our time to us, it tells us you trust us. We’ll reward that trust with hard work and loyalty.

You know how I said money isn’t important to us? That doesn’t mean we don’t like to feel valued. We like regular feedback, whether that’s a weekly or monthly catch up with our manager, or simply you stopping by to say ‘Hey, you know that work you did last week? You smashed it.” Your feedback and appreciation doesn’t have to cost money or be in the form of a payrise (though we like those, too – who doesn’t?). If your team do a great job, put on morning tea, or shout Friday drinks. Or just stop and say thank you. That simple act makes us feel more appreciated and engaged, so we’ll keep working hard for you. Acknowledging hard work is really important to us millennials, but you’ll probably find it keeps your other staff happier, too.

The millennial generation represent the biggest spending demographic and are the first generation of ‘digital natives’. Think about what this world view could do for your business or clients. But also, 56 percent of millennials don’t feel heard by their leadership. So invite us to the table. We’re capable of more than just helping you set up your phone! Even if our role doesn’t allow us to make the final decision, we like to add value to the conversation, and can help you use the personalisation tools that are available to you when you embrace digital business models and marketing.

It comes back to that sense of purpose and bigger picture. We want to contribute and represent a large block of the population. So ask us what it would take for our generation to use your business, or how we’d like to interact with you. It might just open you up to a whole new client base or revenue stream. Not to mention, it will also give us valuable experience for when we are ready to step up into management or a role with more responsibility.

Including us in your decisions is important at a higher level, too. Think about us when you’re considering board positions. We’ll do the work to get the experience needed to be part of those conversations. Plus, as digital natives, we’re often great at the tech aspects required in those roles.

Finally the millennial generation are not represented at either of our local council tables, and yet we are the future of this region. So think strategically when you vote. Balanced, diverse representation will yield better results which serve the entire population for years to come.

Rosie Dawson-Hewes has a background in banking, journalism, management and marketing and runs her communications business, Very Good Content. She is also a Tauranga Art Gallery Foundation trustee and is standing for Tauranga City Council in this month’s at large by-election.

Venture Centre works to connect people on enterprising journeys - with each other and the mindset, skillset, toolsets, networks and resources they need - to build an ecosystem that delivers real-world, learn-by-doing events, activities, projects and experiences, and more ... This would not be possible without the support of Tauranga City and Western Bay of Plenty District councils.


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