I was sitting on a bike waiting for RPM to start (the Les Mills version of spinning – if you who aren’t familiar with Les Mills, it’s a full suite of exercise programs that you may have already taken part in without realising). On this occasion, a good handful of young hopefuls came bounding in only to be turned away as the class was full. Of course the first thing that popped into my head was, “I could be completely selfless and let one of these unfortunate souls spin away, while I could virtuously go and eat cheese and chocolate.” However, after pushing that very tempting thought away, it occurred to me just how popular these classes had become with the millennial generation. Expensive gym memberships and tough fitness classes were now a normal part of life. So then I started to wonder why? And more importantly, could the answers help form a stronger millennial engagement strategy? Well, yes. I believe they can.
1) Millennials flourish with a mentor
There is definitely something about the majority of Les Mills instructors that are engaging and motivating. They all go through the same training and examination regime so you would certainly expect to see a similar type of training method come through, and it does. Regardless of the program, I have certain expectations which are fulfilled:
- They know what’s coming next and will guide me effectively
- They give praise and constructive criticism when required
- They are in it with you, and you will complete the journey together
These are of course all traits that come with a mentor in the workplace. Now when it comes to millennials, 98% see mentors as necessary for their career development, so this approach is not only familiar, it’s expected. They are willing to learn and are desperate for feedback. Just take a look at this blog from millennial Forbes contributor Tori Utley.
When implementing a mentoring program, consider the individuals and the relationship that needs to be formed. It will be much more successful if it isn’t forced or too structured. Matching mentor and mentee appropriately will mean they craft their own path for success.
2) Millennials want to work together
One of the great things about Les Mills classes is that they’re quite a social affair. As Richard Millington of FeverBee would say, you’re all a part of a Community with a shared interest. You tend to see the same faces across the various classes, so you naturally all group together. The programs themselves are put together with teamwork in mind; as a collective you’re even referred to as ‘team’. Even the most dubious are whooping and high fiving with their fellow team mates by the end of the class.
It has been well documented that millennials prefer to work in teams more than any other generation. It makes sense; social media has made them social! With the lines blurred between home and personal, friendships are more naturally formed in the workplace, and as a group they understand the value of collaboration.
Encourage friendships in the workplace through social collaboration tools. Provide a platform where colleagues can not only share knowledge and ideas, comment and like, but where they can work in a team space from wherever they are. Millennials will be familiar with these types of platforms, so use them as champions across the business to keep the activity up and encourage others to do the same.
3) Millennials thrive on both consistency and innovation
Whilst the structure of Les Mills programs remains consistent, every quarter marks the arrival of a new release (this is quite a big thing – erm hello, there is a release party, which all members of the faithful team attend).
Consistency is an important part of embracing innovation. Even in your exercise class, you still know what you need to achieve and the general framework that you need to be guided by. The way you get to your end goal however can change, with sometimes surprising twists and turns. Using this idea in the workplace, millennials are motivated by what they love doing and the variety in their role or the workplace in general.
Ask millennials for their thoughts and ideas, and give them room to give things a try; accepting a few failures along the way. Adding variety into their role will keep them engaged and motivated. Making improvements to the work environment will work in the same way, perhaps with a change in perks or an impromptu employee appreciation day.
4) Millennials want it current and relevant
Along with the moves, part of the excitement of the new releases is about the music. They always include the latest artists and popular beats that really help get you into the zone. On top of this, there are so many different channels to connect with them through, and they actively encourage collaboration and engagement with their brand. They are talking millennials’ language.
I came across a stat that said 34% of millennials would quit a job on the spot if their employer asked them to delete their Facebook page. Whilst this may be an extreme request and response, the point is clear; millennials want to be able to engage with their company, both internally and externally.
The fact that 40% of millennials would PAY for social collaboration tools to improve workplace productivity is wonderful. Embrace it and make sure you respond and continue the lines of communication with them. Plus, they will encourage others to do the same as they sell the benefits of such tools for you. And this includes externally; it’s really not something to be afraid of. The benefits of brand advocacy far outweigh the very slim risk of an employee saying something negative.
5) Millennials work in flexible bursts
Most of the Les Mills programs follow the principles of high intensity training. Each track works on different areas and muscles and at different levels of intensity. Of course everyone has a track they don’t like very much, but breaking it up makes it bearable, and sometimes even enjoyable.
There is a lot of research out there that suggests working in short bursts is more productive. One particular piece suggests we think too much in work accomplished = time spent studying, and the more you study, the more you accomplish. Right? Well not according to Professor Cal Newport, who believes you’ll be much more efficient if you follow the formula; work accomplished = time spent x intensity of focus.
The volume of Les Mills programs always means there are date and time options to suit any schedule. Great if you work flexibly, which is clearly something that millennials deem important as 89% would prefer to choose when and where they work, rather than have to work 9-5.