In their article ‘Stop Treating Millennial Employees Like Enigmas’. Sara Roberts and Michael Papay explain a millennial’s’ need for connection, collaboration in the form of continuous giving and receiving of feedback, the importance of acknowledging their status as ‘digital natives’, and their need to understand ‘why’ not just ‘what’.

Considering the high cost of employee turnover and the low generational loyalty, employers must acknowledge that engaging with and onboarding millennials requires a different lens and approach. By 2025 millennials will make up 75% of the workforce — not adapting will lead to problems.

Effective onboarding is a combination of social orientation and communication around performance expectations over the short-to-medium term.

Overall, ensuring that your employee feels welcome and that they can begin their new role with clarity and settle in with an understanding of behavioural norms is a good foundation. Ideally delivered with a consistent process or approach that clearly aligns with your culture and values.

When considering millennials’ specifically, some nuances can be considered to make the onboarding process resonate more with their behavioural and communication style.

4 tips to consider when devising your onboarding policy:

1. Setting expectations

Engagement from day 1 — being born in the digital era with a barrage of media and smart phones, attention spans are short. Expectations need to be clear and delivered in a concise, informal format, rather than among swathes of paperwork in one hit. Millennials are keen to make a difference and have a deeper sense of purpose than any previous generation, and they view work as an integral part of life. They therefore want to know the ‘why’ and not just the ‘what’. The overall business purpose and goals must link to their personal objectives.

2. Frequency and interactivity

A constant and open feedback loop that permits real-time interactivity satisfies the need for millennials’ sense of immediacy. Millennials move at a quicker pace and want to see results, and success, faster. The ability to quickly address issues as they arise allows for faster settling in, versus the old-fashioned way of researching the employee handbook or waiting for the review process for an issue to be raised. An interactive element is also key — millennials want to know that their opinion counts and that they are shaping a bigger picture and purpose.

3. Mentorship vs authority

Overall, a culture of mentorship is more conducive to a motivated and responsive millennial against the traditional authoritative management structure or hierarchy. Born to a Gen X, millennials are used to a guidance and peer parenting style, compared to previous generations.

4. Technology

In PWC’s report ‘Millennials at work Reshaping the workplace’ 41% of millennials prefer to communicate electronically than face to face or via phone, and 78% say access to technology they like to use makes them more effective at work. Incorporating technology into an onboarding process is arguably an essential consideration for employers to not only engage millennials, but also to help facilitate the transition between multi-generations within the workplace. Technology can help to simplify and deliver much of what meets the needs of millennials’ onboarding requirements — all more efficiently and cost effectively in the long term.