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14 Tips For Managing American Millennial Employees

The term ‘millennials’ was coined by historians Neil Howe and William Strauss to refer to kids born between 1980 and 2000.  If you run a large business, then the chances are high that a large number of your employees consists of this group of people.

According to a recent research, more than one in three American workers today fall into the classification of millennials. Members of this classification are also expected to make up 75% of the working population by 2025. This, without a doubt, means that millennials are both the present and foreseeable future of labor.

Since generational disparities come with behavioral differences, it’s generally difficult to equate a baby-boomer to a millennial when it comes to his or her attitude to work. This is because, behavior is usually a function of environment, and people of various generations are wired differently due to the difference in the quality and components of the environment in which they grew.

That said, managers need to take into cognizance the generational differences existing within their workforce if business objectives must be met. The aim of this article is to walk you through how to manage millennials in your workplace. To be able to provide real, actionable insight, we interviewed 6 millennial employees during the process of coming up with this article.

Provide them with traditional perks

Although millennial workers are significantly different from baby-boomers, their expectations with regards to the perks attached to their jobs aren’t quite different. At the very basic level, millennial staff want  traditional perks that will make their jobs interesting. One of our interviewees had this to say:        

“Most of my colleges were born in the late 80’s, and I don’t think anyone would claim he longs for anything short of good compensation, reasonable vacation time and other conventional perks. I mean, it’s a no-brainer, right? While trying to set out plans, managers should keep in mind that the fundamentals are still very much important.”

Similarly, a global consulting firm, Deloitte, opined:

“Millennials’ personal goals are more traditional. They seek a good work/life balance, they want to own their own homes, they desire a partner for life, and they strive for financial security that allows them to save enough money for a comfortable retirement. The ambition to make positive contributions to their organizations’ success and/or to the world in general also rates highly.”

To ensure that millennials are at home in your workplace, you must take them a step closer to achieving some traditional needs.

Ensure They Know You’re Willing To Play a Long-term Game

It’s sad to invest so much in talent only to lose it rather quickly, right? Well, this situation isn’t uncommon today, as lack of loyalty is a major problem with millennial workers.

The Delliott Millenium Survey 2016  found that 44% of millennials, if given the choice, would leave their current employers in the next two years;  66% of millennials expect to leave their current positions by 2020; and just 16% of millennials see themselves with their current employers a decade from now. What’s more, 57 percent of  millennials in managerial positions also said they plan on leaving their company by 2020.

One of our interviewees claimed that a major reason for the prevalent disloyalty is the “lay-off culture” that millennials grew up knowing and have become accustomed to. This in mind, a reasonable strategy would be to maintain a relationship that suggests longevity of purpose. That is, you’ll want to show your employees that their job is secure in the long run. That, and providing eye-catching incentives to prolong their stay.

While dealing with disloyalty is a very dicey issue, it is anything but rocket science. Understand your millennial employees, and come up with ways within your organization’s means to make them envisage their future in your organization.

Be Flexible

As earlier pointed out, behavior is a function of environment. And things are not the way they used to  be when baby-boomers dominated the workforce. We live in a period of rapid technological development that allows for flexibility in many areas of human life; millennials realize this and so desire the flexibility that comes with the paradigm shift.

In short, millennials want flexibility in their workplace. One of our interviewees claims that most millennials find it rewarding when a manager is not afraid of allowing unconventional things that are  ultimately beneficial. In fact, 95% of millennials say occasionally working from home is important, and 96% value occasionally shifting hours to accommodate their personal life. These say a lot about some of the ways to go about being flexible.

In a nutshell: steer clear of rigid rules and procedures by being open-minded on what can be done to boost productivity.

Have an Eye For Technology

Millennials grew up using technology, and they are more than willing to smoothing  their activities using it. Tech tools have been found to make millennials more productive, and 78% of millennials say access to the technology makes them more effective at work.

It is believed that millennials prefer chat, online meeting applications, and text for communication and collaboration. To get access to document anytime, from anywhere, they also prefer cloud-based document management solutions. All of these facts do not only show how invested millennials are in in technology, but suggest how much you should invest into technology.

Show Appreciation, Regularly

Everyone likes to be appreciated, and millennials are not an exception. However, while working with millennials, it is important to show appreciation regularly, as it was found that 41% of millennials prefer to be rewarded or recognized at least every month, if not more frequently.

Personalizing appreciation also goes a long way in ensuring that your millennial employees are satisfied by working for you. Hence, 68% of millennial employees surveyed in a study claimed that   adding career details would make milestone recognition more meaningful

Give Feedback

Feedback is so necessary, that 3 of our interviewees had to mention how valuable it is to them and their colleagues. One of them said:

“Feedback generally gives me a sense of purpose. I believe a crucial first step to upskilling is to know where I stand – what I’m doing right and wrong. Without feedback, it’s impossible to know any of these.”

Millennial employees do not only want feedback, but they also want it frequently.  In fact, 42% of millennial want to get feedback every week—or twice as often as other generations—and 80% would prefer to receive feedback in real time.

Be for The Greater Good

Millennial employees are not willing to work for just any company; they wish to be actively involved in companies that are impacting various aspects of human life. That is, they love innovative companies with an eye for creating change. This fact was made known by the 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey, which found that millennials feel a personal connection to big issues like social injustice and climate change.

Hence, to increase employee engagement and reduce the risk of job-hopping, managers must ensure that they are socially responsible to their communities or innovative enough to actually bring about change.

Train Them

Millennials want to grow. They wish to impact the world. They crave self-improvement, and are  visibly obsessed with it. As a proof: in 2015, 94% of millennial were reported to have made personal improvement commitments.

The significance of self-improvement cannot even be overestimated as a Deloitte study revealed that only 28% of millennials believe employers were making full use of their abilities. It is thus reasonable that training and development programs should be adopted in organizations to make sure that millennial are comfortable enough to stay put.

Build A Great Company Culture

All of our interviewees were clear on the fact that a good company culture is one thing they look out for in a company. One of them who worked for a Fortune 500 company said:

“In my opinion, the single most fundamental quality of a good organization is a great culture. I’ve worked for 5 different organizations, and what I look for each time is to work in an environment that is conducive enough to aid learning, and wherein, people have great respect for one another. I left my previous company because of the inherent abusive conditions”.

The above is also likely the case with most millennials.

When you grow and maintain a good culture, you won’t be only likely to retain more employees, but you’ll also be more likely to attract the right employees and reach your goals. To give an example, Entrepreneur awarded top marks for company culture in 2017 to The Penny Hoarder, while The Inc. 5000 named them the fastest-growing media company for the second year in a row. Many have suggested that this is no coincidence.

Build Your Organization Around Teams

It turns out that many millennial employees want to work as parts of teams in their respective organizations. In other words, they look forward to collaborating with their colleagues in carrying out different tasks. Companies that wish to hire and maintain top millennial workers must, therefore, create an environment that facilitate collaboration and camaraderie among employees. To achieve this, it is necessary to employ the use of effective collaboration tools that increase productivity.

Make the Workplace Safe

The dominance of millennials in the workplace adds a totally new dimension to the significance of workplace safety. In fact, millennials claim that workplace safety is one of the major causes of stress in the workplace. According to the Industrial Safety & Hygeine News, a good way to go about making employees feel safe in their respective workplaces is to make clear that workplace safety is a top priority; to make access to all safety and security information transparent, and so on.

Do Not Micromanage.

According to a study jointly conducted by the PWC, the University of Southern California and London Business School, millennials prefer to be led rather than managed. That is, they wish to be given the autonomy to use their talents and want to be trusted by their bosses.

One of our interviewees claimed that micromanagement causes her displeasure and can cause a lot of bad things where millennials are dominant.

It is imperative for managers to take on a hands-off approach with millennials after delegating tasks to them. You need to trust those to whom you delegate tasks - don’t be a control-freak.

Make them engaged

A research by Gallup once found that 87% of employees worldwide are disengaged at work, proving that sometimes employee dissatisfaction doesn’t stem from the lack of great perks, but low engagement.

Millennials deeply crave to be actively engaged at work. Peter J. Martel, a senior talent development consultant at Harvard Business School, says:

“We’d have to tell them, ‘The real issue is that your people hate their jobs and they hate coming to work every day.’ Employees want to feel valued, and the best way to express that value is through investment in the individual. An engaged workforce is optimal from an organizational performance point of view”.

Hence, to retain your millennial workers and get the best of them, a way to go is making sure they remain engaged. One proven way is by using technology to carry out some fundamental business functions.

Show Concern For Their Personal Lives

A lot has been written on how millennials don’t draw a distinctive line between work and personal life, and thus end up befriending some of their employees and even seeking a great work-life balance. This proves that to a great extent, employees are all about their personal lives as much as they are about work. Thus, it will only get better for your organization, if as a manager, you show concern about what is going on with their personal lives. This would earn you the trust and respect of your millennial employees.


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