Most digital agencies are made up of young talent these days. Digital platforms are second nature to young people, and they understand the influence the internet has on consumer behaviour. Young individuals are an obvious asset to any company; they bring creativity, perspective and enthusiasm to the industry.
Yet some professionals remain hesitant about working with the younger generations. There are often misconceptions about a lack of motivation, discipline, and experience. Getting the most of your young team takes a different approach to traditional employee management techniques. But, if your company establishes an environment in which young creatives are nurtured, the output will be incredible.
What do young people want from an employer?
It’s no secret that young people love pizza, games, and a Friday afternoon tipple. These workplace benefits are engaging and add some enjoyment to the day-to-day. While these things are fun, they aren’t the only things young people care about.
Values that match their own
Working for an employer who has a clear purpose is attractive to the new generation. A company that shares the same values helps them feel connected to the brand they work for. It helps to establish a culture of like-minded individuals who all want and care for similar prospects. Young people want to feel like they belong to a company that values the work they do and the contributions they make. Employers with an established set of values, mission, aim and purpose that are consistently communicated are often successful in attracting young people who subsequently feel like they’re part of something bigger.
Opportunities for development
Young people have different goals compared to older generations. When looking for a role, most young people aren’t searching for a job for life. They want a role that’s going to provide them with a great amount of experience in their area of interest. There is a huge focus on developing a skill set that can be transferred to a more specialised role, or a different role altogether if they decide it’s not for them. Young people are less concerned with the future of the company they’re working for and more concerned with their own future.
Culture of transparency
Authenticity means a lot to young employees. The relationship between employer and employee should be open and honest. Employers must speak with an authentic voice and follow through with their promises. It’s not enough for brands to claim they value diversity and inclusion, for example, their words must be turned into actions. Where young people see through the claims made by organisations, it can deter them from giving their authentic self in return.
3 ways employers can engage a young team:
1. Building a map for the future
Career conversations show young people you see a future with them in the business. You should show a passion for your team members’ personal trajectory paths. It lets young workers know that they’re truly valued within your organisation.
Invite young team members to think about their goals, what they want to achieve and what they want their role to look like. It’s an engaging activity that will enable young workers to speak openly and honestly with you. It expresses your investment in their future and the steps you want them to take while at your company. Young people want to know that progression opportunities are always available. Growth is a crucial part of a young person’s career roadmap.
2. Providing personal support
To offer support to your team members in a strictly professional manner is not enough for young people. You must be more than a manager. You have to be a mentor, actively listen and communicate authentically. Showing genuine care for wellbeing and mental health is essential if you want to manage a team of young talent. It shows you care for more than just the output of individuals, you want to nurture the input too.
You should have frequent check-ins with your team members not just via a Zoom call with the whole team, but by picking up the phone or dropping them a message. Many young people experience financial, family and health concerns that they may not feel confident enough to share with you. Ensure they know your door is always open and that you care for their wellbeing above all else.
3. Create a culture of balanced feedback
It’s part of human nature to want acknowledgement for the work you’ve done. While reward and incentives are great to motivate team members in the short term, setting your team up for success from the beginning is far more motivating. Assuming young people have the same experience as you to take a piece of information and run with it is naive. Young people at the beginning of their careers have to be given a brief which outlines what needs to be done to achieve a successful outcome. Gaining positive feedback helps younger team members feel connected to leadership ensuring their work is valued by those they work with.
Constructive feedback is just as important. You have to ensure your team members know that it’s normal to drop the ball and miss the mark. Punishing your team members by making them feel guilty for putting a foot wrong will create a hostile environment where young people are afraid to fail. Instead, provide feedback in a calm way showing them what didn’t work well and what they can improve next time.
The success of any company depends on the happiness of their employees. Young people have just as much talent and capabilities as older generations. Creating a work environment with the right resources, values and progression opportunities will motivate young team members to achieve their potential at your organisation.
Laura Greenhalgh is a copywriter at Bolt.