Hints & Tips Blog

Top tips for getting the most out of millennials

Arguably millennial’s have had a bad rap over the last few years, variously described as entitled, ‘Snowflakes’ and difficult to manage. Clearly this generation, generally described as those born in the 1980s and 1990s, are not all the same and such labels are often inaccurate as well as unfair.

However a number of employment surveys have identified millennial’s as one of the hardest groups to engage, but given they will make up 75% of our working population by 2025, if we can’t work out what makes them tick and get them fully on board, our businesses will undoubtedly miss out on maximising their contribution.

So what are millennial’s like in the workplace?

Whilst trying to define a whole generation by describing them via a handful of traits is nigh on impossible, many surveys and pieces of research have identified some elements that might help us understand the ‘millennial mindset’ a little better.

In ‘general’ millennial’s report that career growth and advancement is important to them, even perhaps when their Generation X or Baby Boomer bosses feel they haven’t yet put in the groundwork necessary. If they feel that they are stagnant in their roles or they don’t believe they can learn from the people around them, they are more likely to leave. However, they are generally also enthusiastic about their work and view it as something that can give them meaning and purpose. Again, if they feel this is missing it can lead to dissatisfaction and discord with more traditional Managers who ‘just want things done’.

Millennial’s value independence and are unlikely to respond well to micromanagement. They prefer to have access to the right tools necessary to finish the task and be allowed the space to figure out a solution themselves. Technology is important to them, as you might expect from the first generation to grow up with the internet as an everyday part of their lives, so are likely to be the first to embrace and take advantage of technology that connects people electronically. This will also make them less tolerant of the need to always be ‘present’ in the office given they are comfortable communicating remotely via technology.

They tend to be inclusive, in terms of people and ideas, given they have grown up in a more diverse and interconnected world than previous generations, and will generally be comfortable embracing difference and more adaptable to change than their more mature counterparts. Equally, while they see work as important, they are less likely to want it to be their sole focus and consequently value greater work-life balance so that they can pursue other goals.

So how should we manage them?

Allowing for the fact there is no such thing as an ‘average’ millennial, how can we make sure we press the right buttons to tap into their natural enthusiasm for work and to make a contribution, and avoid switching them off?

  1. Create a strong company culture – millennial’s crave meaning in their work, so provide a sense of purpose and help them see the relevance of what they do and how they can contribute to the company’s growth.
  2. Be mentors not micro managers – they are naturally results orientated, so show them what needs to be done and give them as much space as possible to do it their way – within clear boundaries!
  3. Recognise their work – praise and commendation will tend to motivate them more than just financial reward. But be aware they have a strong sense of their ‘value’ and if they feel underpaid they will not hesitate to look for pastures new.
  4. Allow them to develop – trust their abilities and give them opportunities to take on different or larger tasks or projects. If you hold them back they will disengage, but if you give them space and guidelines they will work hard to deliver at a higher level.
  5. Provide ‘real-time’ feedback – given they are used to immediate responses from technology their expectations about when emails will be answered and queries responded to may differ from other generations, who might see them as impatient. However their impatience is about the desire to make improvements as soon as possible, so if you can accommodate more rapid interactions it will help their effectiveness and their motivation.
  6. Take advantage of them being tech savvy – these are digital natives, they will often naturally see ways technology can be used to make improvements better than those of us who’ve had to learn to adapt. So get them involved in new developments and systems, it will both give you greater access to insight and satisfy their need to get involved.

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