Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1996. In recent media, they have often come under harsh, arguably unfair scrutiny. Of course, I would say this being one of ‘them’ myself.
Though we’re often depicted as entitled pleasure-seekers expecting instant gratification, millennials are undoubtedly one of the most tech-savvy generations. We’ve grown up with computers and software, experiencing the rapid advancement of online technology and rise of social media (though I vaguely remember cumbersome PC monitors and the noise of the broadband dial-up). Living in a world of instant access to news, information and online interaction with friends and colleagues, millennials are likely to enjoy a fast-paced working environment, one which nurtures their yearning for knowledge and satisfies their desire to achieve.
So, how can companies develop and retain a millennial workforce which benefits business and ensures employee retention (in the opinion of this humble millennial)?
Invest in Tech – but don’t rely on it
Technology is undoubtedly important; investing in the right equipment will save employees time and will ensure they feel valued in the workplace. It’ll also ensure that your business is ahead of the curve, maintaining a competitive edge in today’s fast-paced business landscape. It’s equally important, though, that there is still conversation and collaboration at the heart of any business. Technology shouldn’t serve to replace relationship building; millennials value a positive working environment, and this is primarily achieved through building their professional network.
In recent years, there’s an assumption that millennials are looking for workplace gimmicks; snooker tables, ball pits and office dogs - actually, we wouldn’t mind the office dogs – but this superficiality is unlikely to create long-lasting happiness. By building professional relationships, and holding regular after-work social events, millennials will feel a part of the team and, in turn, will want to retain and progress their employment within their current organisation.
9 to 5, what a way to make a living. It’s been the norm for as long as most of us can remember, but we’re increasingly starting to question whether this is really conducive to high productivity. With a desire for freedom of choice and the need to feel valued, flexible working hours can enable us to achieve that elusive work-life balance – and could be the answer for a happier, healthier workforce, millennial or otherwise.
Despite their outwardly confident charm, millennials have been branded as ‘needy’. In a world of instant accessibility and self-gratification through social media ‘likes’, they want to know they’re on the right track, and they want to know now. Businesses need to strike a balance, encouraging independence and initiative whilst also providing constructive guidance and fair feedback for personal development.
Millennials and business travel
With a lust for new experiences and intrinsic curiosity, millennials generally love to travel and are happy to do so for business. According to Boston Consulting Group*, millennials will account for nearly 50% of all business travel spending by 2020. But how does this new wave of younger business travellers differ from previous generations?
Whilst some business travellers see travel as a necessity rather than a perk – due to the strain of long hours and being away from family for extended periods of time – millennials don’t necessarily have the same family ties yet. Business travel provides the opportunity to build their network and experience something new. It’s seen as a perk of the job rather than a burden on their time, so whenever the opportunity to travel arises, they’re likely to take it.
‘Bleisure’ – the blurring of lines between business and leisure - is becoming increasingly popular, particularly with millennials who place great value on their work life balance. As more and more business travellers work flexible hours, there is an increased need for a comfortable working environment suitable for working in the evenings where required, but also allowing breathing space for some down time. This is not to say, however, that millennials are not cost-savvy nor are they bound to traditional means of accommodation, which can sometimes prove expensive. Aparthotels are an increasingly popular choice, providing a home-from-home environment and a new kind of business travel experience, whilst also ensuring good value for money.
As digital natives, millennials are most likely to book their travel online, choosing their travel and accommodation carefully based on online reviews and comparison sites. There’s an expectation that the booking experience should be seamless from start to finish, with a multitude of flexible options at their fingertips and travel details stored in a handy mobile travel app. Millennials are helping to drive business travel technology in a positive way - by encouraging a self-service approach, travellers can easily ensure they are within their company travel policy and keeping a close eye on spend. Born into an ‘always on’ generation, millennials use technology to their advantage, enabling them to work on the move and keep in touch with their colleagues whilst away with work. As businesses continue to thrive, millennial business travellers are adept at keeping up with the fast pace of our working world.
Overall, it seems that the millennial workforce wants pretty much the same things everyone does: a fair working environment that is conducive to progression, learning and flexibility. Whilst it’s important to acknowledge that generational divides do exist, retaining and nurturing the millennial workforce is mostly the same as any other. When it comes to millennial business travellers, having access to the right technology, striking a balance between work and relaxation and the autonomy to tailor their travel itinerary is key.
Provide the right training, tech and support for your millennial employees and you’re sure to be onto a #winner.