Younger workers are moving into the small business workforce in great numbers, and they bring a specific set of both challenges and opportunities.
Below, Brian Sahr, Future Product Marketing Manager for HP LaserJet and Enterprise Solutions, gives our readers strategies for utilizing millenials’ best traits:
Millennials, the young adults born in the 1980s and 1990s, are filling in the workforce, no matter your opinion of them. In fact, millennials, also known as Generation Y, are joining small businesses at a much greater rate than other organizations: 77 percent of this generation’s workforce is employed by a business with 500 or fewer workers.
So far, the general consensus about millennials has been far from positive. Narcissism, extended adolescence, two-minute attention span, needy—these are all common phrases used to describe this generation in the workplace.
However, the millennial generation possesses many positive traits that can benefit small businesses. These workers have an entrepreneurial spirit and seek broad roles that fulfill a variety of interests. They also tend to join small businesses on their own volition: consider that 27 percent of working millennials are self-employed, and that 35 percent of otherwise employed millennials have started their own side business.
So how can you harness these strengths in your own small business? Here are a few tips on embracing the millennial traits that can provide the most value to your business:
Be Open to Change. Millennials have seen more fast-paced change in their 20 or so years than almost any other generation. They’ve watched the rise of the internet and email, they’ve seen more technology and adopted it at light speed (cellphones, tablets, social media), and they are the most socially progressive generation to date. With a history like that, it’s no wonder millennials thrive on change—it’s all they know. While there may be some implications to employers and consumers who are not so easily adaptable, it’s a good lesson for your business. Change is inevitable, and your best chance for growth is learning to embrace it.
Embrace Diversity. Millennials are the most ethnically, racially and socially diverse generation we’ve seen enter the workforce. They crave opportunities for individual expression. For your business, this means big thinking, creativity and no fear of sharing ideas – the kind of thinking that is essential to success. Holding regular brainstorms, cross-training employees for multiple positions and creating an inclusive culture are all tactics that can help take advantage of this millennial tendency. A high level of diversity and self-expression leads to new solutions and leverages fresh perspectives, giving your business an even greater edge.
Lead in Tech. Millennials have embraced technology as a core part of their lives, and they aren’t afraid to evolve right alongside it. Make sure your business takes note of this trait. With technology becoming more and more advanced, your business could use some help with security, appealing to today’s job pool and improving productivity. This can be done by engaging a partner that offers hardware and solutions that just work together, easily meeting business needs and bringing your office to the technological forefront.
Go Mobile. Did you know that millennials check their phones every 10 minutes? While you likely shouldn’t encourage this in the workplace, learn to balance this tendency by making work available on these devices. Today, even printers, like the HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M476, have the ability to interact with mobile devices. Through technologies like the M476, the world’s first printer certified by the Mopria Alliance(a nonprofit organization involved in the creation of universal mobile printing standards), employees can integrate their mobile devices into the workplace securely—be sure to look for these types of features in other technologies.
Millennials’ positive traits can help you become an adaptable, diverse, tech-savvy business likely to last longer than a business that refuses to change. By altering your perspective on millennials, you will be taking cues from the next generation of small business owners and entrepreneurs.