Managing Millennial Employees
Generation Y, whose members are often referred to as ‘Millennials’, is rapidly entering the workforce with a completely different worldview than employees from Generation X or Baby Boomers. As managers, it is our job to properly understand their worldview if we strive to find what will motivate these individuals in the workplace. How can we encourage success in the workplace while giving Millennials job satisfaction?
Who are the Millennials?
Millennials are defined as individuals born between 1980 and 2000. Keep in mind, this generation saw the Columbine shootings and witnessed the events of September 11, 2011 on television and the internet. This is a group that needs to enjoy life now; tomorrow is not guaranteed. They’ve regularly received messages of environmental decline and are ‘going green’. They’ve been raised by adoring parent in a structured lifestyle. They are accustomed to interactions with a diverse group of people.
Work Characteristics of Millennials
These social events and the way this generation was raised creates a set of commonly displayed characteristics evident in the workplace. Millennials often:
- Enjoy working in teams
- Wish to make friends at work
- Work well with a diverse group of people
- Expect you will respect and value their ideas
- Seek challenge, do not like boredom
- Multi-task to the extreme
- Are well connected via the internet and social media
- Are extremely technology savvy
- Highly value their time
- Display a “can do” attitude
Turning Millennial Characteristics into Valued Company Contributions
With this worldview and these characteristics in mind, how can managers appeal to Millennials in order to create a work culture where everyone is satisfied? Use the characteristics to benefit your workplace when you:
- Provide structure and guidance in the workplace. Millennials want to feel their contributions are important. Plan on investing training and provide the ‘whole picture’ so they can see where there contributions fit into the company plans. Provide structure in tasks and explain exactly what is expected of them and the benefits of meeting their goals.
- Encourage working in teams. Millennials are accustomed to and value team work and success. Consider team projects for this group. Mentor and train Millennials as a team.
- Listen to their ideas. This group needs to feel their ideas are considered and valued, so listen up! Do not trivialize their contributions.
- Offer a variety of tasks and change responsibilities occasionally. Millennials tend to get bored easily and they are not necessarily dedicated to one employer. A Millennial is estimated to hold between 10-14 different jobs by age 38. Ask what they are interested in learning about. Remember, these are ultimate multi-taskers; take advantage. Ensure they are able to multi-task while producing quality work.
- Benefit from their networking skills. This group has the largest network. With your social networking policy in place, encourage them to utilize and share Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media messages about your company and/or its needs. Utilize the network for anything from recruiting to sales.
- Provide a fun and employee-centered work culture. Encourage after-work socials, place games in your break rooms and respect the life-work balance. Millennials work to live, not live to work. Make work a fun place to be.
- Utilize their technology expertise. This generation does not even remember life without computers and other technologies. They are “up” on the latest trends, apps, technologies and love to learn about the latest and greatest. Charge them with keeping the pulse on your industry and support innovative idea sharing.
- Support their confident attitude and positive self-image. Their parents told them they could do anything they set their mind to. This is the generation that experienced the “everyone gets a trophy” and “everyone’s a winner” team sports. They will expect and thrive on verbal praise and recognition.
As with any large group of people, the above observations and suggestions are general and will not apply to everyone in the age group. With these tips, however, managers can develop best business practices to actively involve and satisfy Millennials in the workplace.
The staff at Tandem HR, Benefits Solutions Group, Alliance Workplace Solutions and Workplace Solutions EAP contributed to this article. It is intended as information and is not a substitute for legal advice. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.