By Kyle Noonan
“Millennials,” “The Entitled Generation,” “Generation Me,” – they’ve been saddled with countless unfavorable monikers and, frankly, it’s not fair.
Well, maybe a little fair. The reality is, Millennials are taking over and there is nothing we can do to stop it. But maybe that’s not such a terrible thing.
Let’s first look at the data. Millennials are defined as the generation born between 1982 and 2004. They currently comprise one-third of our total U.S. population. By the end of the decade, they will become the majority of our workforce. And our primary consumer over the next 15 years? Yep… Millennials.
Millennials grew up in a world where no one was cut from the team, everyone received a participation ribbon, and each one of them was told he or she was “special.” It’s no wonder they feel entitled, right?
But here’s the other side of the coin. Millennials are smarter.They grew up in a world with infinite access to information at their fingertips. More computing power is available on their smartphone than NASA harnessed to send the first man to the Moon.
Millennials are healthier. To a Millennial, terms such as organic, farm-to-table and antioxidants are the expectation, not the exception. Millennials are more socially conscious. Making the world a better place is more than a nice, amorphous thought; it’s a cause that many will rally behind.
Ultimately, Millennials are disrupting the norms in virtually every workplace. Here are the four key areas I believe every business leader must focus on to attract and motivate Millennials to be a positive force for their business.
1. Failure is a foreign term and not making the cut is not their reality. The generation that lives on Facebook yearns to be ‘liked.’ A Millennial grew up in a society where everyone won and everyone made the team. Does this mean you lower your standards just to ensure that Millennials are happy? Absolutely not. But this knowledge tells us that rewarding “the expected” and acknowledging small successes is important.
2. Create a culture of inclusion, transparency and creativity. The collaborative effort is paramount. Millennials crave being a part of a team where everyone has a voice. They have been conditioned to believe that their thoughts, viewpoints, concerns and desires matter to everyone. Just look at Facebook, Instagram and Twitter…everyone now has a platform and people think their opinions are important. Millennials long to be heard.
3. Lifestyle is more important than income. Visit any social media site and you’ll see your friends and family showing the cool places they are traveling to or the great meals they are enjoying or the great party they attended last night. This has led to the pop culture phenomenon of “FOMO.” Fear Of Missing Out. Millennials see their friends doing cool things and they don’t want to miss out. You’ve got to provide your employees with those “Instagram moments” by allowing them to live an exciting life outside of work. Even better, give them an “Instagram moment” at the office and they’ll be your most vocal ambassadors.
4. They need a mission they can believe in. Millennials want to feel good about themselves and know they are contributing something positive to the world. They need to know their employer’s great mission goes beyond a mission statement. A business and its leaders need to have a reason for existing outside of just making money. Give Millennials a cause to be proud of and they’ll be more loyal, more enthusiastic and more dedicated to your company.
Implement these “Four Millennial Principles” into the culture of your business and I believe you’ll instantly see the positive response from our next great generation.
Kyle Noonan is an award-winning restaurateur and co-founder of FreeRange Concepts, a Dallas-based operator of unique restaurant concepts, including The Rustic, Mutts Canine Cantina and Bowl & Barrel. For more information, visit FreeRangeConcepts.com.