3 Ways to Navigate Millennial Entitlement

by Erin Bair on July 25, 2016

in Diversity & Inclusion,Employee Engagement,Recognition

Posing at the Bean

Regardless of whether I’m training, coaching or consulting, I regularly hear the same complaint about Millennials in the workforce: They’re so entitled. Though initially I jumped on the bandwagon (I’m a Generation Xer happy to no longer be the easy target for generational sniping) I’ve begun asking employers what these younger workers are doing to earn the entitled label.

In a nutshell, I’m essentially told they are spoiled brats who expect prizes for showing up, sulk when they’re not properly fêted, and presume raises and advancement are just around the corner.

Currently, Millennials make up over fifty percent of the workforce. So how do we navigate this sea of entitled laborers?

  1. Realize that most employees, regardless of their age, want the same thing. Snarky language aside, Millennials have been criticized as being entitled for wanting to feel valued, appreciated and recognized for their work.

    Guess what? Time and time again, surveys show employees – regardless of the generation from which they hail – identify ‘full appreciation for work done’ as what they want most from their jobs. So, essentially, the main difference between Millennials and their older brethren is that Millennials are more vocal about what they want from their employers.

  2. Use Millennials’ feedback as a bellwether for employee engagement organization-wide. Millennials are more vocal. Perhaps it’s an inherent trait or perhaps it’s because they’ve had fewer life experiences to trample their enthusiastic idealism. Regardless, it would behoove employers to recognize that feedback is valuable.

    The majority of unmotivated employees were motivated once and have become demotivated over time. Use Millennials’ comments and criticisms as a way to gain insight and tap into motivational opportunities to avoid the silent slip into demotivation.

  3. Leverage Millennials’ motivation and engagement through coaching. How? Ask them what they want. It may not be possible to offer raises and promotions, but remember it’s a sense of recognition and appreciation Millennials are seeking and there are many (free) ways to provide it.

    You can be upfront about what employees can expect in terms of increased compensation or status and, at the same time, you can show them that you’re interested in their professional development by asking what it would take to make them feel good about their jobs. Telling them when they’re doing well, coaching them when they’re off-track and providing opportunities to develop their skills are all ways to keep Millennials productive and motivated.

Just make sure to do the same for every other generation in your workplace. They may not be vocal about it, but they want the same things.

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