The millennial generation is changing the nature of the American workplace, and as a manager you need to be tuned in. Millennials make up more than half the workforce as of 2015, and by 2025 they will account for 75 percent of it. Every workforce brings unique attributes to the business arena and this is the first that grew up in a technological world that has virtually always provided opportunities for real-time feedback. That reality has had a fundamental impact on the ways in which millennials work today. If you yourself belong to this generation, the information below may feel familiar to you. But regardless of your own experience, as a leader it is critically important to ensure that you are transforming your approach to feedback in order to meet the needs of your millennial employee base. Let’s take a look at “why” and “how”:
This Generation Is Different
One big change, brought about by the digital revolution, is that millennials do not tend to separate work from the rest of their lives in the same manner as previous generations. The omnipresence of technology means that they are rarely disconnected from work or home, regardless of location or time of day. In fact, this segment of employees is accustomed to an “always-on” connection to every part of their lives. So, just as they stay in regular contact with friends and family around the globe through messaging and their social media network, this generation also feels most at ease when they are directly connected with their manager. It’s no surprise that the Millenial experience of being able to check in, ask questions, and get feedback in real-time in their personal life would be mirrored in their desire to have similar access and input in their professional lives. The question facing people leaders then is, how best to meet those feedback needs? Especially when no one is actively asking.
They Don’t Necessarily Ask for the Feedback They Need
It’s true. Even though thousands of words are spread all over the internet about how much millennials want regular feedback, a curious fact is that they themselves don’t tend to ask for it. Gallup research reports that only 15 percent of millennial workers “strongly agree” that they ask for routine feedback. This tendency to keep their requests muted is pervasive: Gallup found that only one-third of millennial employees state they’ve even told their manager “the one thing they need most to get their work done and why.” In light of this absence of active solicitation for feedback, the Gallup researchers offer the following advice: “Managers also need to take initiative and increase the amount of feedback they provide — regardless of what their millennial workers may or may not request.” Ok, but how?
Feedback Is a Social Act
For a generation raised on social media, using the same type of interactive, social tool for employee feedback makes sense. Some may not at first see the point of a social feedback platform, but once it’s instituted, they will likely appreciate the sense of connectedness it offers. An always-on, intelligent channel is also a great way for managers to stay in touch with their whole department and gather feedback.
Two-Way Feedback Is Vital for Engagement
That open channel between you and your team should allow information to flow in both directions. Providing the ability to ask questions and offer opinions is one of the key drivers of employee engagement. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) highlights “constant feedback from employees” as one of the ways in which managers and HR departments can build a culture of engaged workers. SHRM particularly notes that employee feedback and recognition technology can help to facilitate essential two-way communication – but it must be integrated into how you do business.
Active Listening As Part of Your Workflow
Today’s workflow often relies on technological platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, and so forth. These platforms have the opportunity to integrate an active interface for listening alongside those task-related communications. The two types of conversation that exist in work — supportive and logistical — no longer need to be tackled separately. Through active listening technology, questions and ideas can flow freely between employees and managers as part of the collaboration process. Furthermore, keeping an open listening channel is a reliable way for you to stay checked-in with how each of your team members is feeling on a day-to-day basis. You no longer have to leave yourself sticky notes or alerts reminding you to ask one person if they need time off for their son’s surgery and to check in with someone else about whether their new project idea is working out. With an active listening interface, like Achievers Listen, you stay directly connected with employees by using an always-on, open channel to hear and understand what matters to each individual.
The New Era of Feedback
Comprehensive feedback practices translate directly into employee engagement and companies with highly engaged workers outperform other companies by as much as 202 percent. Gallup researchers have dug even deeper into employees’ need for feedback and have confirmed the relationship between feedback and engagement. Millennials who have regular meetings with their manager are twice as likely to be engaged at work, while engagement is at its highest among those who meet with their manager at least once a week. Unfortunately, though, fewer than half of the Gallup survey respondents reported being able to get feedback from their managers even as often as once a month, leaving those employees at risk for becoming disengaged.
The good news is that making a few simple changes to the way your company gives and receives employee feedback can ensure that your millennial employees – and all of your people – will get the input they need, placing your employer brand ahead of the competition. To learn more about engaging your workforce through active listening, download our Achievers Listen brochure and white paper: “The New Engagement Conversation: Workplace Chatbots and the Science Behind Achievers’ Allie.”
About Dr. Natalie Baumgartner