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How Bosses Can Communicate Effectively with Millennial Employees

The first step is learning about what makes them tick

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BY Cristina Morales - 01 Jun 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Here’s a fact that may be daunting to some of you out there: In about a decade, millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce. These millennials are some of the most driven, ambitious, and technologically-savvy workers there is, but businesses still struggle to communicate with them, as evidenced by the Randstad Q3 2015 Workmonitor, which found that 4 in 5 millennials are looking for opportunities to jump ship.

Why are employers struggling to nurture loyalty amongst their millennial employees? According to Cindy Leong, founder of Singapore-based personality training center Relationship Studio, learning about what makes millennials tick is the first step to communicating with them effectively. Here’s what she has to say:

1. Millennials want to feel empowered

Though important, financial security is not the top priority for many millennials, Leong says. Instead, millennials look for the ability to take charge and actually make things happen, as reported by The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017.

“Some of my clients have people who leave their company because they feel that they can’t connect with the company’s vision,” says Leong. She advises business owners to take the time to communicate their vision with their millennial employees, or even invite them to develop the company’s vision with them. “This gives the staff a sense of ownership towards the company’s vision.”

Leong advises employers to adapt a more collaborative—not commanding—communication style. One way to do so is to give millennials the space to make suggestions and give feedback. “They want to be heard,” she continues. “Even if they don’t have the best idea in town, you should give them that opportunity to express themselves.”

2. Millennials crave for a sense of belonging

Millennials want to feel like they belong—without getting the sense that they’re just another cog in the machine. Employers can foster this feeling by being intentional in how they mentor and communicate with their staff, Leong says.

“I advocate for one-to-one coffee sessions between managers and staff, because many people—especially in Singapore—would not open themselves up in a group setting,” says Leong. Being intentional and taking the time to pick the brains of your staff shows them that you’re interested in their lives and that you acknowledge their value.

3. Remember: there’s more to millennials than their label

These one-on-one meetings also lets you see more of your employees’ individual personalities. After all, bosses shouldn’t fall into the trap of boxing their employees into categories. People are much more nuanced than an all-encompassing label, and this applies to your millennial employees as well.

“Older people sometimes have to get into [their millennial employees’] world,” Leong says. “Get interested in their lives and build a relationship so you can understand each other and learn how to better communicate and work as a team.”