What Social Voting Can Teach Us About Managing Millennials

Oh…YouTube…and Digg…and Facebook…and anything else that lets me vote. Thank you for teaching us a valuable lesson about Millennials and how to understand my generation.

If you manage or work with Millennials, take a second to look at all of the sites where Millennials spend so much of their time and ask yourself one thing: “Why do they all have some sort of voting or ‘like’ feature?”

Hear Us Out

Millennials have had a say in just about everything we’ve been a part of since we could talk. We’ve been asked if we want blue or red, Chicken McNuggets or a Cheeseburger, Nikes or Reeboks, a truck or a coupe, and on and on.

Now we want and expect to be heard. So we upload videos to YouTube, share photos on Facebook, tell you what we’re doing on Twitter, and then engage in some sort of voting and commenting on everything that’s shared.

Then we show up at work and are told to sit down, shut up, and do what we’re told. We’re rarely even asked our opinion unless it’s voting for employee of the month.

Offer Us Choices

Many people hear this and cringe. Because when you offer someone a choice, you have to release a bit of control. How much control you release is ultimately up to you. But if you hope to attract Millennials to your company, you’re going to have to release some.

Here are a few “starter” areas where choices could be offered:

  • Dress Code – If you still require ties be worn to work, don’t expect Millennials to line up at your door. One of my banks now lets their tellers wear jeans and button-down shirts. And they don’t even force them to tuck them in. It’s a banking revolution. Plus it’s fun to walk into.
  • Project Selection – Let your employees volunteer for projects they want to work on. Not only are you likely to get employees on the project who actually want to do it, they’re more likely to volunteer for projects they are interested in or gifted at.
  • Free Days or Free Time – Some companies are giving their employees opportunity to take one day every quarter, every month or every week to work on whatever company-related ideas and projects they can come up with. Generally, these focus around innovation or improvement. The only requirement is that they disclose what they’re doing. Those that do have notice drastic improvements efficiency, job satisfaction, and innovation.
  • Alternate Shifts/Schedules – Maybe you’re not ready to let your employees work from coffee shops just yet. However, why assume they’re all at their best from 8am – 5pm? Maybe let them come in from 10am – 7pm. Or, if they’re a morning person, 6am – 3pm.
  • Rewards – Think all your employees want to be rewarded in the same way? Think again. Let employees tell you how they want to be rewarded.
  • Desk Decoration – I know this sounds trite, but try it. Many companies restrict employees to things like one family photo and a calendar. Who cares? As long as it’s not a violation of ethics, morality or common workplace decency, let employees use their desk as an extension of who they are. People work and operate better in different environments. Don’t assume that blank cubicle walls equate to productivity.

By offering up choices, you let your team know that you care about what they think and how they work best. You don’t have to make radical changes overnight. Just loosen up a bit and watch as people become more engaged in the company and it’s culture.

Question: This is certainly not a comprehensive list. What other “starter” areas could choice be offered to employees?

Photo Credit: theresasthompson

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