How to Instill a Positive Company Culture and Receive a Strong Return
Millennials have entered the workforce, and generational stereotypes may create a clash that isn’t beneficial for positive work culture. At the same time, the generation labeled “narcissistic” isn’t unreasonable with all of their desires, such as requesting a flexible schedule. Their willingness to speak up encourages other generations to do the same.
Companies need to avoid negative assumptions, and find out how to empower their new hires and existing employees in a growing and aging job market:
1. Don’t Assume Generational Stereotypes
Sticking to stereotypes and assumptions makes the company look ignorant. Gen Xers were known as “slackers,” and millennials have been targeted with the label of “narcissists.”
One online survey reviewed feedback on narcissism across the generations from 750 adults of various ages. On a 0-100 point scale, millennials (18 to 25) said they were 61.4 percent narcissistic, while they ranked those 60 years old and above as 38 percent narcissistic. To compare, adults 60 and above overrated millennials as 65.3 percent and themselves as 26.5 percent. Older generations widen the generation gap, more so than millennials, to their favor.
Interestingly, every generation in the survey noted they were more narcissistic than generations past. The label of “narcissistic” millennials is overblown, just as the “slacker” gen Xer label was. Millennials may work or see things differently than other generations, but they are team players. Gen Xers are also willing to step up to the plate and take the initiative. Don’t hold employees back due to generational stereotypes.
2. Communicate in More Than One Style and Mode
Everyone has a unique communication style and a preferred mode of information exchange. An employee’s personality may clash with another’s no matter the age gap. Therefore, it’s important that employees and employers learn to communicate in more than one style. The four communication styles are:
- Functional style: Prefers well-structured plans, outlines and timelines with detail. Every step is important and must be represented.
- Intuitive style: Needs to know the point of it all. They envision the big picture and avoid details that aren’t relevant and obscure the whole point of a project. A general overview is helpful, but the endpoint must be made firmly.
- Analytical style: Must have hard data with concrete numbers. They don’t like vague answers or details. Specific language is best used in conversation.
- Personal style: Loves getting to know others on a deeper level and discovering the root cause of situations. They are relationship-oriented and speak in emotional language.
These communication styles may come across differently in face-to-face conversation, texts, emails or phone calls. It’s important for each employee and employer to learn various communication styles and preferred modes of information exchange, or employees risk alienating each other instead of building positive work culture.
3. Don’t Forget Employees Years Down the Road
Some employees may be content with their existing role, doing what they love or what they’re skilled at without advancing higher. Most employees want to excel, though, and that means they also want to take on more work and rise within the company.
During performance reviews, ask employees how they feel about their current position within the company and if they have any desire for growth. Where do they see themselves in a year versus five years? Ask how you can help — and follow through. About 53 percent of employees see performance reviews as a waste of time, so make sure yours aren’t.
Performance reviews are an opportunity to engage employees earnestly, so take advantage, but also incorporate other elements, such as promotions, seminars and a general word of appreciation. Employees will feel valued, contribute to positive work culture and feel motivated to work harder.
4. Offer Reasonable Benefits, Pay and Perks
The Class of 2016 recently began their first job search and have interesting and misaligned expectations regarding salary than what HR may be thinking of offering. Per a survey by Wakefield Research, 42 percent of college seniors expect a minimum salary of $50,000 from their first job, while in reality, 48 percent of employers will pay entry-level workers $35,000 at most.
The demographic with the most realistic salary expectations were women, where 70 percent of female graduates expect to take home under $50,000, while the men that expected this amount were 44 percent. Older generations may be more realistic with these amounts, having climbed the ladder, but it’s important to be upfront with younger candidates.
New hires shouldn’t overestimate their skills, and it’s important that employers clearly outline market trends, employer expectations, required skills and benefits packages. Salary isn’t everything a company has to offer. It can offer good healthcare with a generous maternity leave package and beneficial perks such as a gym membership. What do new hires and current employees value? Meet them in the middle.
5. Encourage Independence and Initiative
Some employees need and desire more handholding than others. As they advance, they should require less supervision from management. However, that doesn’t mean employees like doing the same tasks every day for the next ten years.
As a company grows, so should its employees — of every generation and experience level. Assign new projects that match an employee’s career growth interests. Encourage them to represent the company in a panel or tradeshow. These small opportunities to take the lead will empower each employee to find the leader within themselves and contribute their best.
6. Be Flexible
The job industry is changing. Nearly a third of the workforce is not only now millennials, but 34 percent are also contractors and freelancers. Technology enables today’s workforce to complete their tasks at a quicker rate and from almost any location in the world.
The generation that grew up immersed in technology prefers flexibility in their work schedule, and it’s something that older generations wanted but put up with because that was the status quo. The status quo is changing, and companies must shift their policies, too, to keep up.
There are benefits to be gained by allowing employees to have more flexibility. Employees gain easier access to a fair work-life balance. Are there some duties an employee may do at home when they’re sick or part-time? Would allowing half days on Fridays in the summer, known as Flex Fridays, help improve employee morale? Yes. Self-care at home and on the job is intrinsic to sustaining quality productivity while preventing burn out.
Pleasing every employee to perfection isn’t possible, but it is possible to build a positive work culture with the right tools. Each generation and employee has unique strengths. They communicate in different styles and modes and desire different things as their careers advance. That’s when performance reviews must become more of an engaged conversation with employees than a checklist.
Every employee wants to be seen for their value, and they are willing to work hard. Reward them with reasonable pay, benefits and perks. Encourage independence, initiative and flexibility. Companies will gain stronger employees who contribute to positive work culture and the overall success of the company.