Tarring a whole generation with the same brush is inappropriate—particularly with a cohort as broad as generation Y that runs from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. Having said that, there’s no doubt that the differences in parenting styles, markets, political and social conditions experienced by this generation led to key differences in the way millennials approach work.

Data from pac executive’s Workforce Productivity research helps to explain how the habits of millennials differ to other cohorts, and the compelling data has been provided exclusively to The CEO Magazine.

Workplace Productivity research

Millennials reported lower levels of productivity than other generations. In fact, generation Y say they are 30% less likely to be productive on tasks assigned to them than the aggregate (1385 Australian workers).

The data clearly shows a correlation between age and productive habits. As millennials get older, the more productive they became. That’s understandable because very few of us are taught how to work. We learn productive habits through trial and error. This comes with age and experience.

As leaders this doesn’t mean we should only hire older staff. Some companies include productivity training as part of their induction process, which is a particularly effective way to establish good working habits from the start of their career.

4 key areas to help with training millennials

  1. Minimise interruptions

Millennials are 11% more likely to let interruptions impact on their productivity, and are 18% more likely to have trouble focusing at work.

The first thing to teach graduates is to save their questions and ask them in one hit, rather than interrupting leaders and team members every time they have an enquiry. Training millennials to make this part of their work best practice can save individuals up to 2 hours each day. 80% of enquiries can be resolved without bothering anyone, however, most employees won’t do this unless they’re forced to.

Create ‘do not disturb’ protocols across the business, such as the use of signs or headphones, and give employees permission to say no—or at least, not now—when others try to disturb them.

  1. Reduce distractions

It’s no surprise that generation Y is about 20% more likely to be distracted by the lure of the internet and social media than their counterparts. Banning Instagram isn’t the answer as you’re likely to end up with retention and attraction issues. Instead, encourage employees to use social media as a reward, and to restore their energy between high-value tasks.

  1. Encourage planning

Employees who fly by the seat of their pants are more likely to leave important work until the last minute, fail to delegate, or to prioritise their work appropriately. Encourage employees to put planning time aside every week—or at the end of every day, if necessary. This habit creates a mindset and behavioural shift from reactive to proactive.

  1. Manage procrastination

All of the above habits are by-products of procrastination and millennials are nearly 20% more likely to procrastinate than the average worker. Encourage employees to manage procrastination by:

  1. Blocking out time for high-value work in schedules.
  2. Batching communication and low-value tasks. Answering emails, checking voicemails and enquiries in batches.
  3. Using a one-touch-one-decision approach. Develop the habit of dealing with small tasks immediately during scheduled time rather than multi-handling information.

Millennials tend to be better influenced when you explain the reasons for the way things are done, otherwise important requests can be seen as purely discretionary. Thus, as you encourage or enforce habits across your business, always communicate why they’re important as this will really help with training millennials.

This generation offers new creative thinking and approaches, and as such are worth the effort it takes to coach, mentor and train. How are you going to encourage your millennials to be more productive?