Building a high-performing organization starts with cultivating the right culture. Workplace culture can impact employee retention, morale, productivity and performance. Essentially, if the culture is bad, the organization will never reach its full potential.
The relationship between leadership and the workforce greatly influences business success. Ultimately, how you treat your employees is a direct reflection of how they will treat your customers. Building a workplace culture that empowers employees and nurtures professional growth is necessary to engage and retain talent.
With millennials now the largest segment in the U.S. workforce, leaders need to embrace innovative strategies to engage this willful generation. Millennials have notoriously been labeled lazy, entitled and disloyal, largely blamed on their upbringing.
Despite these perceived shortcomings, millennials have a lot to offer organizations. They are goal-driven, self-directed, flexible and highly collaborative. They have a limitless mindset where anything is possible and want to make a positive impact on the world at large.
Understanding the values of employees can help leaders get to know their employees on a personal level. This will help leaders connect their employees’ passions to the business. Let’s examine five ways that leaders can build a workplace culture that embraces millennial values and improves organizational performance.
1. Matching employee and organizational values
Organizations need to understand what drives millennials – and all employees for that matter – to attract and hire the right talent. They need to have a grasp on each employee’s value system and ensure it matches the values of the company. Matching values can overcome many obstacles, including misalignment over professional growth opportunities, work-life balance policies, and community outreach. Values speak to what is important to an individual and organizations need to have a strategy in place to assess values during the recruiting process.
2. Improving communication
To avoid miscommunication, leaders must speak a language that resonates with millennials. A disconnect in communication widens the gap between management and the workforce. For example, millennials are highly collaborative and want continuous feedback to improve their performance. Leaders who understand this value can deliver more frequent feedback and offer strategies to improve their skills. Leaders who do not take the time to understand what drives their employees can risk alienating individuals and diminishing engagement.
3. Striking the right work-life balance
Millennials have a strong focus on work-life balance and do not thrive in a corporate setting that doesn’t embrace that. In fact, millennials value work-life balance more than other job characteristics, according to a 2016 study by Deloitte. This includes career advancement and finding purpose and meaning in their work. Millennials are often viewed as lazy for seeking work-life balance, but they really want to have a fulfilling career and family life. They want it all. Helping employees strike the right balance between their personal and professional lives will go a long way with motivating and engaging this generation.
4. Building trust and credibility
Millennials have grown up in an era plagued with terrorism and school shootings. Grappling with uncertainty and volatility has caused this generation to be untrusting and skeptical in nature. To overcome this predisposition for doubt, leaders must work to build trust and credibility with their employees. Trust is not gained through a leadership course or seniority. It’s earner over time through repeated exchanges with others. Leaders must continuously be mindful of their behavior because trust can quickly be lost and will take time to earn back.
5. Invest in personal growth
Millennials have an insatiable appetite for learning – both personally and professionally. They desire regular feedback and look for opportunities to grow and improve. Organizations need to offer learning and development opportunities, whether formally or informally, to engage employees. For example, organizations can offer formal training courses or partner seasoned employees with new hires to mentor and share knowledge. Growth potential is a motivating factor for all employees. If organizations fail to invest in their employees’ professional development, they will eventually walk right out the door.
The Future of Business
Every generation poses unique challenges for organizations. But with each challenge, comes an opportunity to grow and transform. As millennials gain market share of the workplace, there is a strong focus on how this generation is transforming workplace culture and what this means for the future of business. Regardless of generation, leaders have a responsibility to understand what drives their workforce. By aligning company and employee values, leaders can build a high-performing organization that amplifies business value.