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Attracting Tomorrow's Workforce: 5 Management Styles, Workplace Cultures And Benefits

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 16/03/2016 Ahmad Raza

The US economy is resurging. The unemployment rate in the US hit an eight-year low of 4.9% in January. According to a New York Times report, "...the last six months were the best extended period for employee paychecks since the recovery began six-and-a-half years ago." A strengthening US economy leads to job creation, and as more jobs become available, the competition to find, hire and retain top-talent begins to heat up.
So how do companies compete for a 21st century workforce?

1. The Millennials Have Arrived!

Pew Research announced in May of last year that millennials officially became the dominant group in the US workforce, representing 53.5 million workers. Adults aged 19-34 have a very different set of priorities than previous generations. Where Generation X, having grown up during periods of civil disobedience and cultural change, valued new and exciting opportunities, millennials crave security and personal fulfillment.
Millennials had front row seats to the greatest financial crisis almost anyone alive has ever witnessed. The most secure thing in the world, a home, became financial quicksand that nearly wiped out the middle class in a few short years. College dreams were disrupted and the promise of a career went up in smoke after graduating from college with massive student loans and a shrinking job market.
The country has come a long way since the Great Recession, but its lessons about financial responsibility and self-reliance have been etched into the minds of those who survived it.

2. The Importance of Innovating

While the entitlement of an incredible career after college may have evaporated, Millennials also witnessed living legends, like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, pioneer new industries and build powerful brands that impact everything we touch. The rise of the internet, becoming so much more than a simple platform to share ideas, is now taken for granted; WiFi is almost as important to daily life as food and water.
Millennials crave opportunities to be a part of something bigger than themselves, while often expecting great things to happen instantaneously. After all, if you can execute a stock trade in one app, and then order pizza with another, why shouldn't the rest of the world be instantly reachable? The conundrum for companies is finding a balance between providing the freedom to innovate and gain fulfillment at work, while still holding the generation that suffers from social-media-attention-deficit-disorder to productive deadlines.

3. Tech Friendly is Mandatory

The 21st century workforce is bringing their iPhones, androids and windows phones to work with them. You can set acceptable use policies in the office, but good luck enforcing them. The forward-thinking employers are finding better ways to give-in to the tech addiction, while getting more productivity in return.
According to a Kansas State University study, "...employees only spend an average of 22 minutes out of an 8-hour workday on their smartphone." The same study showed that employees that were allowed multiple "smartphone micro-breaks" throughout the day were more productive and happier at work.
Companies looking to appeal to a 21st century workforce need to allow employees to use their personal technology at work, with the understanding that deadlines need to be met in return for that privilege.

4. Don't Forget About Traditional Benefits

Economic instability has molded millennials into a more financially literate workforce. Witnessing the ugly consequences of many in America failing to plan properly for retirement has engrained in them the importance of planning for retirement as a component of any career decision.
In the United Kingdom, employees fall into three classifications for their government-funded retirement pension plans. The US has made it a little bit more diverse. Social Security is likely not going to survive until millennials retire, so companies that offer a pension plan are certainly going to stand out from the crowd. A close second, and nearly national standard, is a strong 401(k) program with matching employer contributions.
With shows like NBC's Shark Tank making entrepreneurship and startups appear sexy and fun, savvy employers are offering valuable new hires and current employees stock options. Stock options, if framed properly, can give employees a sense of ownership in the performance of their employer. For example, Best Buy offers employees an Employee Stock Purchase Plan, where the company pays for a large percentage of the stock purchases made by employees; providing their employees an instant return-on-investment and a financial share in the retailer's performance.

5. Leadership Through Communication and Inspiration

More than almost any other generation, millennials are looking for a sense of purpose and fulfillment from their work. Social media has given everyone a platform to instantly share their ideas and amass an audience. In the workplace, millennials want to have their voices heard and feel that they're playing a part in the decision-making.
For company executives and team managers, the best advice comes from an unexpected source: Dolly Parton. She's quoted as saying, "If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then you are an excellent leader."

A 21st Century Workforce that Craves Prosperity, Innovation and Inspiration

Millennials thrive when they are built-up to achieve their potential within the framework of the organization. Highlighting the positive aspects of their performance goes a long way towards minimizing less desirable behavior. This makes perfect sense considering that so many spend their time posting things on Facebook, with the hope of getting a ton of "likes".
Furthermore, they are fine-tuned to hedge their bets and protect themselves financially. Offer a dynamic benefits package that includes an opportunity to share in the future prosperity of the organization and they'll be far more likely to give 110% for the long-haul. Give them the freedom to innovate while completing assignments within organizational timelines and empower them to help steer the ship. You might be surprised to see what millennials are capable of when given shared responsibility and opportunity.

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