Do you ever have trouble relating to younger generations? Does it ever seem like millennials are more challenging to manage than other generations? The answer to your problem likely lies not in what you are trying to communicate, but instead to whom you are speaking.

As Human Resources and Compliance professionals, it’s essential that you know how to effectively communicate with all generations spanning your workforce.  You can’t build and improve your corporate culture if you can’t connect and effectively communicate with all of your employees.

Here are 4 key methods for connecting and communicating with Millennials and Generation Z in the workplace.

1.     Stand for Something

This is probably the most important recommendation I can make. In a nation where money is the driving force in almost every decision, sincere kindness stands out. I’ve found that younger generations want more than to merely receive a paycheck; although those are necessary, they want to know that they are a part of something bigger. They want to know the work they are doing can make a positive impact on the community and the people around us. Millennials want to be assured that we are building a career that is beneficial to not only ourselves but to other people. Take the time to make sure your employees understand your corporate values and how their job embodies those values and drives a positive corporate mission.

2.     Coach, Don't Manage

A coach supports their team. They are encouraging, understanding, and willing to work with their team to improve performance and excitability regarding the task at hand. I worked with several retail companies throughout my college years, and there was a clear trend between managers with high social intelligence and employee retention/satisfaction. Understanding your employees and having effective listening skills is an essential quality that will make your employees want to follow company policies. People are more likely to listen and follow rules and regulations when they know it directly affects people who care about them.

3.     Create a Positive Culture

Imagine you are walking into work on a Monday morning, only to discover there is a sour, stressed mood lingering in the air. A hostile, toxic stress-filled culture is something that I can relate to.  I used to work at a company where my team and I were micromanaged to the point where productivity was stifled, and valuable time was wasted.  Eventually, this unhealthy and unproductive style of management drove me and others to find other employment. High employee turnover is not only bad for employee morale but also bad for your company’s bottom line.  I’m sure you all know, finding, hiring, and training new team members is expensive and time-consuming.

4.     Generate Trust, Not Fear

Using fear to motivate your employees will most certainly hurt corporate culture, relationships, the bottom-line, and your employees’ psychological well-being. This not only holds true to the younger generations but across all generations.  Leading with fear and intimidation, at most, will only give you temporary control over employees. In the long-run, performance will diminish, creativity will be crushed, good behavior will be crowned out, your speak-up culture will become non-existent, and it will foster short-term thinking.  You want to generate trust with your employees; When trust is built with your employees, what you're really doing is creating an environment where your employees feel free to speak up and know that their contribution matters.

As a millennial, the best piece of advice I can give you to help guide millennials and younger generations is this: When in doubt, just ask what they need.

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Hannah Christenbury is an ETHIX360 summer intern from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. At ETHIX360, our goal is simple, to provide an affordable, flexible and comprehensive answer to companies compliance hotline and case management needs.  

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