January 25 2021 marked one year since the first case of COVID-19 catapulted Australians out of the workplace and into their at-home office.
For some, it was a dream come true: working from the couch in their pyjamas with a non-communal fridge at their disposal. Something very much embraced by millennials, who already spend most of their working and social lives online. The generation of digital natives who so easily adopt the Slack channels and Zoom meetings we’ve now all become accustomed to.
They are wired to be constantly connected, unable to leave their phone unattended, with a rapidly declining attention span. Yet for what this generation lacks in concentration, they make up for in agility, creativity, and hard work. So, with millennials’ admirably adaptable nature being tested in the face of a permanently changed workforce, how can we keep these young employees on track from afar?
Set clear expectations
Without clear guidelines and tasks, your young employees can’t ensure they’re on the right track. Simultaneously, feeling on track to meet KPIs is crucial to their confidence, self-worth, and productivity. Using virtual time tracking tools like Toggl, and task management software like Trello, Asana or ClickUp can be helpful when setting responsibilities and keeping your whole team on track.
Be present for your employees, and do so in a way that suits their communication style. And often for young people, this is a more informal, instantaneous, text-message style exchange. Adjusting your interactions to promote both casual and formal dialogue maintains the information flow integral to keeping your millennial employees on track when working from home.
Not just via instant message, but via video to gauge the non-verbal cues and body language that is so easily lost through work-from-home. Better yet and if you can, arrange for face-to-face time once a month with your team as this can be an effective way to restore interpersonal connections and strengthen bonds. This could be engaging in team-building activities, or simply grabbing a casual lunch together.
Just because your employees are not physically in the office doesn’t mean their strong performance and positive actions can’t be rewarded. Promotions and acknowledgments, even virtual, can help keep virtual morale high even when apart. Additionally, look to provide opportunities to improve their skillset while working from home as this can encourage more engagement with their work.
Loosen your grip
Trust in your employees to do the right thing without you physically (or virtually) looking over their shoulder. Avoid the temptation to micro-manage, as even in person this can make your employees feel unconfident and incompetent. Instead, check-in and connect frequently on both a formal and informal level, while giving them space to work their way. A great reminder is to focus on output, rather than process.
Social media. Dating apps. Netflix. These are just some of the distractions employers must contend with as they battle to manage a team of remote millennial employees. But to keep them productive and on task, a level of trust and opportunity is imperative, as are clear expectations, regular check-ins, and strong interpersonal connection. Prioritize these five aspects and your young employees are sure to be performing at their best, keeping you on track to make 2021 your best year in business yet!
Louanne Ward, Relationship Strategist, Writer and Motivational Speaker