According to the Current Population Survey conducted by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, millennials now comprise 35% of the US workforce, eclipsing the Gen Xers in 2016. By 2020, there will be 86 million millennials in the workplace, representing 40% of the workforce when that time comes.
So, say what you want about them, but from this young talent pool will emerge the next CEOs, innovators, and trailblazers who will lead their respective industries in the future.
Therefore, it is important for companies to make sure they retain the best millennial talent they currently have and maintain, if not boost, employee morale. Closely related to this is the use of time tracking in the workplace and how it affects productivity and job satisfaction among millennials.
Millennials Don’t Want to be Tied to a Desk
There’s one common belief among the millennial members of the workforce: Work is a thing you do, not a place you go to.
According to Deloitte’s Millennial Survey, what millennials are looking for in a workplace can be summed up in this statement:
“Freelance flexibility with full-time stability.”
Looking at their responses for the first time could be a bit confusing. While almost two-thirds of millennial employees seek full-time employment, 84% of currently employed millennials report a flexible work arrangement as an important factor in keeping them engaged at work.
The flexibility that millennials are looking for from their employers falls under four major categories:
- Flexible time: Millennials want to be able to dictate to some extent what time they start and finish work, as well as choosing a schedule that would allow them to pursue things outside of work.
- Flexible location: They want to be able to change their work location as they see fit, whether it is reporting to the office for important meetings, working from home during “light” days, or working from a co-working space.
- Flexible recruitment: Companies offering different kinds of contracts, talent crowd-sourcing, etc. appeals to millennials.
- Flexible role: Millennials would like to choose, following certain guidelines from human resources, the roles they play as part of their job.
It may seem too much, but companies who are able to offer flexible work arrangements reap the benefits of higher productivity and increased loyalty among their millennial employees.
The same Deloitte report revealed that compared to millennials employed in a low-flexibility work environment, "those employed where flexible working is highly embedded are twice as likely to say it has a positive impact on organizational performance and personal well-being."
This is echoed by another study involving 23,000 employees from 45 countries. The research found that 79% of the respondents achieve a more positive work experience when their employers offer enough flexibility for its employees to meet personal and family responsibilities.
Mixing Oil and Water? Getting the Buy-in of Millennials for Time Tracking
Looking at the strong data supporting the importance of flexibility to engage and retain the best millennial talents; many HR managers and payroll managers could easily feel that they are caught between a rock and a hard place.
Here’s a fact: time tracking is essential to track overall workforce productivity and profitability.
HR managers and payroll managers (and ultimately, even the C-level executives) need to use the data culled from time tracking to measure whether the company’s revenue is commensurate to the billable hours of its employees.
It also helps in diagnosing inefficiencies in your workflows and systems by identifying which tasks employees are spending most of their time on – and whether the time spent is necessary or can be reduced.
So, given the need of millennials for flexible work arrangements and your need for time tracking, how do you marry these two seemingly contradicting concepts?
Take Time to Educate Millennials about the System
At the end of the day, the workforce millennials need to adhere to the time tracking system that you have in place, whether they like it or not.
However, more friction is created if you’re just shoving policies for them to follow without explaining what the system is and what it’s for. In the case of time tracking, this is when millennials feel that you’re breathing down their necks because you don’t trust them.
If you’re using a software for time tracking, dedicate a few hours to orient them about the ins and outs of the system to build appreciation for the system and why millennials shouldn’t feel that they are being hawk-eye monitored.
Use Time Tracking as a Feedback Mechanism
One of the key traits among millennial employees is they need feedback and affirmation about their work. In fact, nearly 85% of the millennials say that they would feel more confident about their work if they have more frequent conversation with their managers.
That said, you can use time tracking as a springboard for regular conversation with them. You can use the data on how they spend their time at work as a coaching opportunity. You can also put a rewards system in place (bonuses, promotions, etc.), which is important in engaging millennials.
Time Tracking as a Vehicle to More Flexible Work Arrangements
This may sound like a surprise but having a strong time tracking system in place can pave the way for more flexible work arrangements for your millennial employees.
Think about it this way: the reason that many companies can’t offer flexible work arrangements is because they need their employees to follow a stringent schedule and be physically in the office to monitor and measure productivity.
However, with a technologically advanced time tracking software, your employees can work with much more freedom because they can take the technology with them anywhere they go.
They can clock wherever they are – whether they’re at home, at a co-working space, and even in a coffee shop. Likewise, they can easily record their productive hours, giving them the security that their work is being appreciated even if they’re not physically present in the office.
Making Millennials Appreciate Time Tracking
The dominance of millennials in the workforce has changed office dynamics and work environments. Their demand for flexibility could seem like a hindrance to HR and payroll managers, who understand the need to track time and monitor productivity. However, with the right strategies, policies, and technologies in place, you can actually teach millennials to appreciate and embrace time tracking in the workplace.
Dean Mathews is the founder and CEO of OnTheClock, an online time clock app that helps over 8000 businesses all around the world track their employee time.
Dean has over 20 years of experience designing and developing web-based business apps. He views software development as a form of art. If the artist creates a masterpiece, many people's lives are touched and changed for the better.
When he is not perfecting time tracking, Dean enjoys expanding his faith, spending time with family, friends and finding ways to make the world just a little better. You can find Dean on LinkedIn.