These days it seems that each week, there’s a new article on Millennials in the workplace and how their professional expectations are vastly different then the generations before them. We sat down with Chris Wiegand, CEO of Jibestream and AceTech Ontario CEO member, to find out how he’s adapted to the newest generation in the workforce and how he’s made it work in Jibestream’s favour.
The first thing employers need to understand is that many Millennials are not motivated by compensation the same way their parents and grandparents were. It is still a key consideration, however, there are other significant factors that come into play. Chris notes that a Millennial’s desire to constantly learn, grow and be challenged is a much stronger factor, if not the most important, when considering a place of employment. “We have to make sure we rotate people throughout the company so they don’t get bored”, says Chris, “we want them to feel like ‘yes I’m not just doing the same work over and over again, I’m learning, I’m part of R&D, next week I’m part of something else’. Although it’s not always or practical to rotate people in their roles but we are very conscious of keeping people engaged.”
Impraise Blog states “according to a study by Intelligence Group, 72 percent of millennials want to be their own bosses at work. If they do have a boss, 79 percent of them state that they want their bosses to serve as a coach or a mentor. The research explains that there is a need for a performance management system designed to guide employees into being more equipped experts in their line of business.” Chris has recognized this among his employees and has noticed that annual or even quarterly reviews are not sufficient anymore. He has ensured that his employees are having weekly 1 on 1’s with their supervisors. These meetings are not simply about what the employee’s current tasks are, but what’s working for them and what’s not working for them. Chris has found that if they do not have the opportunity to do this, the frustrations they are having will fester and soon they will be looking at job boards. These meetings are also key to ensuring that your employees are continuing to work towards their goals. “It’s important to make a clear growth trajectory for people, so that when you start someone off in a role, even on inside sales, that you have a clear path for them to be enterprise sales person, if that’s what they want to be”, explains Chris.
When it comes to employee retention, Chris says that “the more you teach, the more they get out of it and the longer they stay. Eventually they’ll leave on great terms and you’ll get the best out of that person for those X years”. It’s also important to continually gauge the temperature of your employees, be open to changes and to try new things. When Jibestream adopted Slack, Chris felt uneasy when he saw hundreds of giphys go across the app. However, he’s realized that Millennials appear to be very strong at multi tasking and despite all the memes, his employees are hard working.
Chris has discovered that when recruiting Millennials, transparency and social accountability are paramount. “I think things like Instagram and Facebook are good because they allow people to see your culture. They say a picture is work 1,000 words. We share a lot of pictures and 80% of them are probably the office dogs”, laughs Chris, “but people can now start to fill in the blanks and understand the work environment and see themselves fitting in here – we try to make sure everything is consistent and representative of the workplace”. In addition, you’ll notice on Jibestream’s job board, they are very honest about potential challenges a candidate may have in that position. This results in interviewing candidates who can see themselves fitting into the environment and welcoming the challenges that they may face.
Chris feels that it’s important for his fellow CEOs to remember that Millennials do not make up 100% of the workforce. “Don’t change everything you do to be universal for this group of people. The challenge is to make sure it’s still a dynamic management system”. He feels it is important to not let the emergence of a new generation in the workforce change your whole company.
At the end of the day, Chris feels it ultimately comes down to emotional intelligence. “It’s about how you should be best addressing each different type of person in your group and then managing to that. Your managers are going to have to manage one person maybe slightly different than the other but still make it fair”.