When it comes to attracting and retaining talent, there's no doubt that some companies skew toward millennials. Employers are providing easy mobile access to work files, encouraging social media interactions with the company, highlighting charitable initiatives, and giving consistent employee feedback, just the way Gen Y likes.
While these newer policies don't exclusively benefit millennials, they do represent a big shift in the way the workplace is run. It's easy to see how workers of older generations can feel like outsiders, and perhaps even think that their employers are favoring their younger colleagues. But is this really the case, or are employers simply trying to keep up with the times while making their staff happy?
Kirk Baumann, vice president of career services at Enactus, an entrepreneurial community of student, academic and business leaders, noted that employers may not necessarily be treating Gen Y workers differently, but the workplace does evolve and change with each new generation. [What the Workplace of the Future Will Look Like]
"With the adoption of technology, employers continue to move forward," Baumann told Business News Daily. "Millennials are tied to their smartphones and have always had the Internet. The 9-to-5 job is starting to shift --- [millennials may] have flex time [and] the option to work wherever they want. The perception [may be that] the new kid is the favorite and gets the new technology, etc."
So what can employers do to break this perception? It's all about showing your multigenerational staff that the policies and tech tools you're implementing really is in everyone's best interest.
"The best workplaces are adapting to the arrival of millennials with new practices and programs, but are doing so in ways that benefit employees of all ages," said China Gorman, CEO of HR consulting, research and training firm Great Place to Work. "Policies that take into account millennials' interests should be available to everyone."
Gorman said that companies can rethink their benefits and rewards so they are less one-size-fits-all and more like a menu with multiple options. For example, millennials may appreciate discounted tickets to sporting events or other entertainment venues, while Gen X and baby boomer employees may be happier with employee assistance program services that can help with child care and elder care arrangements. Work-life balance is a priority for Gen Y, but all staffers can appreciate flexible work options such as telecommuting, generous paid-time-off allowances and sabbaticals.
As for training and development, Gorman reminded employers that professional guidance isn't just valued by millennials.
"Show millennials that you care about their professional path [by tying] training into a broader career development plan," Gorman said. "But again, offer this to everyone. Employees of all ages will benefit from a more comprehensive approach to career development, as will the organization as a whole."
Integrating different generational groups can also go a long way to help all employees feel like they're part of the same team. Baumann advised creating cross-generational project teams, and setting millennials up with an older mentor so both parties can learn from one another.
"There are strengths that other generations bring that millennials don't have and vice versa," Baumann said. "Make them work together [to] move your staff forward."