A Complete Guide to Managing Millennials in the Workplace
Millennials are born into technology. They grew up knowing the new world, the modern world of media and advanced technology systems that decreased our workload drastically as compared to the past. They are also born into a world that is transforming and no longer holds the same ideals as previously. The world today places emphasis on producing meaningful and smart work instead of monotonic, hard work. When millennials join the workforce, they meet the Baby Boomers; people who are from a pre-technology era mostly those born in the 40s to 70s. These people still hold on to age old concepts of hard work and dedication, keeping work above everything else. This means that millennials are expected to follow the corporate code of conduct which means that there could be conflict and challenges.
Hiring and managing millennials always proves as a challenge for the employer. They tend to be difficult to handle due to their different and unique ideas of how the corporate world should be and they aren’t afraid to be vocal about it. On the upside, they do bring with them a can-do attitude and a working style that the generation before them lacks.
To help with managing a millennial more suitably, here are a few guidelines:
Concrete Job Descriptions
Giving a millennial an indefinite list of jobs to do, just won’t cut it with them. They need to plan, prioritize and strategize around each and every job that has been assigned to them. So give them a concrete and complete list of responsibilities and watch them thrive.
Jane Foster was hired to be a personal secretary to the CEO. She was not given any clear directions and was simply expected to be at the beck and call of the CEO performing tasks beyond her capacity. She wasn’t given any formal training nor any goals to achieve. Eventually, Jane suffered a burnout doing everything required of her. She was good at what she did, but the lack of a proper map and planning strategy limited her capacities, and within six months she quit the organization. If you don’t want the same happening to your employees, create a roadmap for them to follow. Once on the roadmap, millennials will discover their own ways to do things better.
Clear Career path
A millennial has goals and aspiration for their future and career. They need to know that their career will head in the right direction in the company that they’ve been hired into. So if you or your company can help pave the way for the millennial and their “5-year plan,” chances are you’ve got yourself an invaluable and an effective employee. It will also serve you better if you provide adequate training to every millennial so that they can perform and excel in their career growth and have sufficient amount of product and company knowledge.
Don’t Lure them with Money
The saying “money makes the world go round,” doesn’t apply to millennials. They look for something more than just monetary gain. They look for job gratification, goal fulfillment, a relaxed environment as well as giving back to the community. You can do that by organizing fundraising events or contributing towards a meaningful cause/ charity.
Millennials look up to their bosses/managers as people who can help and guide them towards their goals and not just as someone who “calls the shots.” But at the same time, they would like their ideas/concepts to be heard and implemented. So be the boss they need you to be. Find that balance and plan some time to coach and inspire your millennials. They deserve and crave your time, knowledge, and guidance.
Luckily, when Jane moved to another organization, her boss understood her potential and encouraged her to explore the HR department of the company. Eventually, the company sponsored her online HR Master’s degree and now 3 years down the road, she is Head of HR. This goes on to prove that with the right tools and education, millennials can do wonders.
The ever-efficient millennial is always working hard towards improving him/herself and ironing out those little creases. Therefore, they look towards the boss for feedback on each and every job they do. By providing constructive feedback on a weekly or daily basis, you are helping to shape them into future leaders they aim to be. This will help the millennials to be motivated and prove themselves to their employer in a progressive manner. Do note though that negative feedback, unnecessary criticism, and sarcasm is an unhealthy practice and may lead to employee demotivation as well as lack of trust in the management. When that happens, you start seeing high employee turnover rate.
The ambitious and hardworking millennials like any other employee value appreciation. If they see that their work isn’t valued or appreciated accordingly, they won’t stick around much longer. So, make sure they are justly and duly rewarded. If they complete a task on time, they should be equally rewarded. Every millennial should be treated fairly. There shouldn’t be any discrimination and injustice. When Jane looks back at her first job, she cringes with dislike. Not only was her boss demanding but also rude and unappreciative of her work. Unlike her current workplace, her previous workplace had a toxic working culture.
Millennials have a very positive self-confidence, thanks to their parents who from a very young age have encouraged and supported them and have given them the right to choose their own career path. This encourages them to achieve whatever they set their minds to. It would serve you right if you would not try and crush or contain them and their ideas but rather encourage them further. It is your duty as an effective employer to boost your employee’s morale by motivating and inspiring them.
Gone are the “self-sufficient attitude” days of generations past. The millennials know that more can be achieved as a team. Working as a team can build productivity and initiate new and diverse ideas. As a boss, you need to take advantage of that. Put them in team building activities. Mentor and guide them as a team because after all in the words of President Abraham Lincoln “a house divided within itself cannot stand.”
Millennials are known to be a very opinionated group. They have all these ideas of how the corporate world should be run, but they are modest enough to know that they should not force their ideas upon the company. So, as a good and effective boss, it becomes your responsibility to listen to their ideas and opinions. After all, there is more than one way to get the job done.
Millennials just aren’t about goals and work. They want to enjoy what they do. They willingly want to come to work and not because they have to. If a millennial seems unhappy or is not laughing much or not socializing with other employees, consider that as a red flag. It is essential for you to make the workplace into a fun yet controlled environment for the millennials in order for them to stay fresh and motivated. Do this by providing a recreational space for the employee where they can relax, recoup, and clear their mind.
Flexible Work Hours
For the millennial, a 9 to 5 job just doesn’t do it. They need flexible work hours, commuting time and options and more time off. Many “old school’ employees will argue that such a culture only encourages laziness, but millennials believe that this just makes an employee more productive. Flexi timings not only provides the employee with a work-life balance and less commuting time but also makes sure that the work is done in an effective manner. All in all, it’s beneficial for the employee and the company.
Millennials live in the “now.” They love to socialize, love to network, and they know that social media is the only way forward. Take advantage of their affinity for networking and electronic literacy. Social media engages every employee to communicate with one another efficiently.
Multitasking is a great way for an employee to achieve their targets/deadline. It makes them successful not only in their current assignments but in their future life as well. And when it comes to multitasking, millennials are pros. They talk on the phone while answering emails and multiple messages. As a boss, you should take advantage of that. It doesn’t faze them out. Instead, it boosts their mental abilities and makes them more productive.
From a young age, the millennial is pushed into multiple activities, events, and sports. Therefore, they love to remain busy and look forward to their next challenge with zeal and fervor. So, in order to prevent the millennial from getting bored, challenge him with different tasks and responsibilities.
What you need to remember is that you are responsible for the future of your company. Since a recent study has shown that millennials will make up almost 75% of the workforce by the year 2020, you need to make sure that you and your company follow these tips to not only understand the millennials but also prepare for them.
A point to be noted is that each and every millennial is different. Some may fit the descriptions above and some may not. These tips are just a guide to help you have a positive attitude towards them.