5 Tips for Managing Millennials

5 Tips for Managing Millennials

Monday, December 5, 2016

Millennials are expected to make up approximately half of the U.S. workforce by 2020. Millennials are the most highly educated and culturally diverse group of all generations, and have been regarded as hard to please when it comes to employers… – Wikipedia

The most recent arrivals to the current workforce are members of the generation commonly referred to as “Millennials,” also sometimes known as “Generation Y” or “Echo Boomers.” The generation gap between Millennials and Baby Boomers is wide enough that many managers and business leaders seem to have almost given up on understanding their younger cohort, dismissing them as “entitled” and “lazy.” Boomers are prone to blaming “helicopter moms” for Millennial’s perceived lack of grit, and joking that in the real world, you don’t get a trophy just for showing up.

But is this a fair assessment of Millennials’ true character? This is the generation that will be dominating our workforce within the next decade; if employers hope to attract and retain talent, they need to understand these new workers.

Who are the Millennials?

The precise birth dates for this group vary depending on the source, but they are generally placed between the early 1980’s and mid-1990’s. This means that Millennials now range in age from around 20 to their middle 30’s. This means that they are the group currently in the process of graduating from college, obtaining advanced degrees, and establishing their careers.

The Millennial generation are “digital natives” who have grown up with computers and advanced technology infusing their lives. Born around the same time as the World Wide Web, they have little or no memory of a time before the Internet and email, and are at home and comfortable with smartphones, social media, and e-commerce.

Millennials have also grown up in a time of dramatic social change, economic volatility, and increasing globalization. The older members of the cohort were born in the Reagan/Thatcher years; some may be able to remember the fall of the Berlin Wall or the disintegration of the USSR. Younger Millennials are children of the Bush and Clinton eras. The 9-11 attacks were a prominent event in the formative years of most Millennials.

Great Expectations

Millennials tend to expect more from their employers than previous generations. Most studies agree that Millennials, as a group, differ from previous generations in their preference for a flat corporate culture, their emphasis on work-life balance, and their sense of social consciousness.

As digital natives of the information age, Millennials are accustomed to information flowing quickly and freely – and they carry this expectation into the workplace. Their preference is for transparency, rapid feedback, and open communication with supervisors. Millennials thrive in an open and supportive environment, with ready access to mentors and advisers.

Baby Boomers’ work-centric attitude and sense of company loyalty are not shared by the Millennial generation. They place great importance on balancing work with personal and family life. Millennials are also socially conscious, and prefer to work for companies which are, in some way, engaged in bettering society.

Millennials have been noted for their propensity for rapidly switching jobs, and even careers. Despite the fact that the group is underemployed and have benefitted less from the economic recovery than older workers, they are optimistic about the future. Many have entrepreneurial aspirations, and high – not to say unrealistic – expectations for advancement.

The perception that Millennials are spoiled “Trophy Kids” who demand rewards for even the smallest of accomplishments is perhaps overblown, but they do expect their employers and supervisors to be supportive, encouraging, and flexible. Positive feedback and recognition for achievements are good motivators for many Millennials.

As a group, Millennial employees believe in letting their voices be heard, and will not hesitate to challenge the status quo or to assert their rights. They are also less likely than their older counterparts to remain in a job that they find unsatisfying – all the more reason for employers and supervisors to try to understand and cultivate the workforce of the future.

Tips for Managing Millennials

A few tips for companies seeking to attract and retain Millennial talent and managers who work with them:

  • Emphasize learning, development, and coaching
  • Accommodate work-life balance with flexible schedules
  • Offer customized compensation packages and fast-moving advancement paths
  • Build a strong company culture of mentorship and social awareness
  • Capitalize on Millennials’ tech savvy and social media skills

Reprinted with permission from Baker Communications, Inc.

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