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How to Talk to Millennials about the Future

How to talk to millennials about the future

As a millennial, I am optimistic about my future. It’s going to be bright and shiny and successful and happy.

But what does it look like, exactly?

I have no idea.

Millennials are ambitious — perhaps even dangerously so. We go to college without a major. We fly to foreign countries without an agenda. We take jobs, rent apartments, and swipe our credit cards without thinking too hard about the potential consequences.

That’s not to say millennials are completely irresponsible. We’re…whimsical. Confident. Unafraid to take chances, and unafraid to change course when those chances don’t pan out.

Whatever positive or negative spin you take, it’s true that most millennials aren’t too worried about the future. We’re not concerned about a five-year — let alone a ten-year — plan.

So what does this mean for the modern workplace?

With the highly adaptable mindset of millennials, employers today are faced with a challenge. Before, young people were eager to get a job that would last them awhile. Now, the thought of staying in the same position for several years can be somewhat terrifying. Job security has been replaced with job flexibility.

So how do employers like you motivate your millennial employees to not just stick around, but actually invest in your company’s future? You need to reframe the way you talk about the future. Here’s how.

Start with Why

Millennials and goals

Millennials are motivated by passion. Why would I want to take this job? What’s in it for me? What’s the larger purpose here?

If you want to encourage young employees to care about your company, you must show us why it’s important. What makes you different? What can you offer us that other companies can’t? What are you doing to make the world a better place?

Once we’re convinced of your company’s mission, we’re all in.

But now the challenge becomes keeping our attention. Again, you need to focus on the why — the heart and soul of your business. If you can connect a meaningful purpose to the objectives you’d like us to take on, we’ll do it, and we’ll do it wholeheartedly.

Talk Tangibles

Millennials in the workplace

Because we millennials like to live with our heads in the clouds, sometimes we need to be brought back down to earth.

If you’re having trouble getting your young employees to invest in your company, you need to offer them tangible goals. Do you want your sales to experience a certain percentage of growth? Are you looking to cut down on production costs? Need to find a better way to train new employees?

Present millennials with a problem, and we’ll find you a solution. But don’t just expect us to know what you want from us. We don’t know what to do with our own lives, so how are we supposed to know what to do with an entire company?

Talking about tangible goals also helps keep us in the present — and prevent us from freaking out about the future.

At a company retreat recently, our team was asked to think about where we’d like to see 9 Clouds in five years, and — being the millennial group we are — we all quivered a little. Five years?! With the way work, technology, and even human behavior have changed over the last few decades, who knows what our future as a digital marketing company could look like?

But after we broke it down into specific action items, we were able to piece our goals together to see the bigger picture. Once we had an overarching vision to reference, we then came up with some short-term goals (think three to twelve months’ worth) that each of us could take on and execute in order to fulfill that grander vision.

Because millennials are visionaries. But we’re not fortune-tellers, and there’s a big difference.

Loop It Back

Motivating millennial employees

When you’re talking about the future with a millennial, you can’t just have one conversation and be done with it.

Millennials know that things can change at a moment’s notice. Because we’re constantly acclimating ourselves to new situations, we don’t take the time to dwell on the past. Unless we’re told to, we’re not revisiting our quarterly goals to see if we’ve met them. Last year’s annual review? Forget about it.

To get millennials to follow through on these easily neglected goals, keep reminding us that they’re there. Check in with us to see how we’re doing. Ask us pointed questions about how we think the company could improve. Keep us engaged in the discussion.

And as before, always loop us back to the why. Because when we are able to personally resonate with your reasoning, we’ll be inspired to achieve — not only the immediate task at hand but for other tasks in the years to come.

Read More Millennial Posts

We have written several posts about millennials in the workplace. Click below to read more!