How to nurture the next generation of nonprofit communicators
Much has been written about how Millenials approach work differently than previous generations. Often they are labeled as a group that “work to live” rather than “live to work” but this generalization is too simplistic. According to Deloitte’s third annual Millennial Survey, this new generation of workers value their careers and want a workplace environment that fosters innovation and nurtures emerging leaders.
Millenials value work with purpose, which is why young people just starting their nonprofit communications careers are so eager to make a difference immediately. As an experienced communications professional you may be reluctant to give junior staff some of your bigger projects but there are ways you can involve them, engage them, and perhaps, even learn from them.
Give them ownership
Nothing can be more frustrating to a new communications graduate than spending their work day just answering phones, responding to emails and photocopying. Although it may take time before you are comfortable with delegating a media pitch or campaign launch to them, make them part of the process. Include them in meetings, share strategy documents with them, or give them visible roles at an event in order to make them feel they have ownership of the communications plan.
Give them flexibility
Gone are the 9 to 5 workdays. Today we could be working early mornings, late evenings, weekends, even on holidays thanks to our smartphones, social media, and telecommuting. Millennials don’t object to working long hours, however they may question why they need to be physically present in order to complete their work. Flextime is not just for mothers needing to adjust their workday so they can pick up their children. Millenials also value flextime if it gives them the chance to schedule their day. They too, have priorities that are important to them.
Give them access
Today’s new workers are adept at balancing multiples activities at once. Give them access to their social networks and allow them to text their friends during work time, because they have no issues with checking their work emails after-hours. Plus, Millenials are the “connected” generation and will be your nonprofit’s biggest ambassadors outside of their work day by using their own social network accounts to share the good work of your organization and engaging their friends to get involved.
Give them feedback
Feedback is critical to Millenials. They aren’t just seeking praise but thoughtful review of their work and how they can improve. For instance, they may understand how to write a press release but they may need to be coached on proper email etiquette before they get a quote or testimonial from a board member. Don’t wait for annual reviews to comment on their performance. They want to know how they are doing throughout a project, not just when it is completed. This ongoing evaluation can also help management as it gives you the chance to address any concerns, plus it helps you identify any special talents they can bring to the team.
Give them opportunities
Organizations often look to the professional development line when needing to make budget cuts but this can be disastrous for Millennials. This is a generation that craves training and learning opportunities so invite them to conferences or ask them to join you in a webinar. If they show a particular skill in one aspect of their work – perhaps they can turn your boring PowerPoint presentation into a visual masterpiece – give them a chance to develop that talent if it will benefit the organization.
As more and more Millenials join the workforce, it is imperative that organizations and managers adapt to this new generation. Not only are you developing the foundation for an effective workplace but you are developing the workforce of the future.