Today’s college age young adults are classified as Millennials; those who were born between 1984 and 2002. These young adults have grown to have a unique set of values, interests and commitments than many who are just a few years older than they are. Researchers are finding that the rise of terrorism and violence in the world seems to have influenced many of the ideas and values of this generation. As a result of growing up in a culture that experienced September 11, 2011, the shootings at Virginia Tech, Hurricane Katrina, and others, this generation, more than any other, seeks certainty in their lives. Unfortunately, in modern society, there is no certainty.
However, most nonprofit leaders recognize the importance of engaging Millennials since they are the next generation of leaders. The Barna Group interviewed more than 30,000 Millennials to discover the keys to engaging, empowering and mobilizing this population group.
1. Recognize that the lives of Millennials are in compartments or pieces.
Millennials have grown up in a time where everything in their lives can be taken apart and reassembled differently. They view their lives as pieces that all fit together. Your organization is simply one piece. Recognizing this requires flexibility and adaptability on the part of the organization. Flexibility may come in the form of varying responsibilities, flexible hours, etc. Millennials do not plan to stay more than 3 years on a job so being creative and flexible can encourage them to stay longer, be more engaged and contribute in meaningful ways.
2. Help Millennials understand the “why.”
Perhaps more than any other group in our society, Millennials want passion for their job… even more than they want financial security. Even though Millennials have a reputation for not being loyal, they tend to be very loyal to causes and to people. This is good news for nonprofits, because your cause is undoubtedly a good cause that they can connect with. Help Millennials to see and understand the cause, that lives are being transformed… this motivates people of any age. Additionally, help Millennials understand the back story… the “why” behind the “what” and “how” in the organization.
3. Create mentoring environments.
Millennials flourish in environments where mentoring is valued and encouraged. Such mentoring can occur in both formal and informal ways, but the important question to ask yourself is “how well is our organization nurturing friendships and mentoring relationships between generations?” Millennials can be effective in mentoring older adults in the areas of global perspective, digital tools, social concern, optimism and innovative energy.
Using these three tips for success, you will find that your organization is able to engage and empower Millennials in various roles. Remember a large part of their success (and yours) is how you perceive them and their energy.