Using Your Millennial Employees to Find Your Company’s Next Big Innovation

By: Marissa

Millennials could be the key to the next innovation in your company. Many possess an entrepreneurial spirit and the tendency to ask questions. These traits can lead to transformational change and drive millennials to make radical leaps.

Focusing only on the bottom line will no longer provide the competitive edge that technological innovations are creating for companies today. If you want to grow your company, it’s time to take advantage of new, connected technologies and work on building the right skills within your workforce to move forward. With millennials representing over one-third of the workforce, you can use these tech-savvy and creative employees to help shape your next innovation.

Millennials often get a bad reputation for being too entitled, self-obsessed, and high-maintenance. However, according to author of Unfairly Labeled: How Your Workplace Can Benefit From Ditching Generational Stereotypes and organizational development consultant, Dr. Jessica Kriegal, there is no evidence to support current stereotypes regarding millennials. In addition, negative characteristics such as possessing a short attention span and little respect for authority depend on environment and vary on a case by case basis. It’s unfair to generalize these traits over all millennials who vary greatly in things like race and age. Dr. Kriegal suggests that employers remain unbiased and get to know millennial employees individually. These digital natives can each contribute innovative ideas to an organization- since evidence suggests they’re generally more willing to take risks and innovate.

In fact, millennials could be the key to the next innovation in your company. Many possess an entrepreneurial spirit and the tendency to ask questions. Some are also mistrusting and skeptical of authority. These traits can lead to transformational change and drive millennials to make radical leaps. With proper guidance, these highly educated individuals have the potential to make a massive influence. It’s critical to understand them for the future of the organization. Here are a few ways you can begin understanding and using your millennial employees to drive innovation:

1. Allow opportunities to provide input

Sometimes millennials are criticized for asking a lot of questions or challenging norms in a company, but these characteristics can serve as a source of innovation and positive change. Millennials are looking to provide input, and want to feel like they are helping the company to achieve its mission. When opinions are shared of how to improve processes or other recommendations, be attentive and show willingness to implement changes based on their findings if appropriate.

2. Embrace technological instincts

If your company is working with outdated processes it could be time to better engage millennials by modernizing certain aspects of business. For example, using an app to track time and input quick memos rather than relying on lengthy timesheets and reports is one way a company could transform their processes to better connect with and retain younger generations. It’s always crucial to support additional needs as they develop into the future, as well.

3. Provide a sense of ownership and purpose

Help millennials feel as though they are playing a meaningful role in the company by giving them meaningful projects that they can take ownership of. Delegate more responsibility especially in helping with company issues or areas that relate to company productivity. Millennials want to be challenged and tested with assignments in which they are interested.

4. Bridge the gap

Forming cross generational teams can be a great way to stimulate innovative ideas. Both parties can learn from and benefit from one other. Younger employees can learn the limits of their risky innovations from the experience of senior staff, and experienced staff can feed on the energy, creativity, and technology knowhow of the younger employees.

This generation relies on technology in many aspects of their personal and professional lives, and technology has almost always played a large role. A digital native couldn’t be more fit to help with your company’s transition to a technological ecosystem and the formation of your next big innovation. Try techniques to better understand your individual millennial employees and encourage an environment that fosters learning and free thinking to open up the possibilities.

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