Among the leading workplace trends strongly influencing the direction and general culture of corporate America is the increasing number of employees who are millennials. While the boundaries of the generation are fluid, the term generally refers to those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. Millennials occupy more than one-third of the American workforce (the largest share); recently, they overtook Generation X — those born between 1965 and 1980 — as the largest share of laborers in the U.S. economy.
Known for their technological aptitude and global perspective, millennials bring a unique perspective to the world — and it translates into the workplace as well. For managers, there can be a learning curve when it comes to building working relationships with millennial employees.
As millennials graduate college and enter the workforce, they bring with them a unique perspective on office culture, especially in terms of relationships between employers and employees. Millennials are the most collaborative and inclusive generation to date, meaning that they expect their workplaces to uphold the same ideals, according to Forbes. For managers, it is important to create an environment that thrives off communication and participation. When I Work notes that millennials are on track to be the most educated generation and that they work well with coworkers from diverse backgrounds. They seek out challenges and avoid boredom at all costs. Millennials look for jobs in which they are valued, can make an impact and develop their skills. They want to see the “why” behind what they do — and to be paid fairly for it.
The following management strategies can help employers work well with millennials in the workplace and make the most of this unique generation’s best qualities.
- Implement group work. Millennials grew up doing various team-based activities, so they often want to collaborate to accomplish tasks. They value the input of a group because it is made up of diverse opinions. In fact, when IBM studied millennial workers, the company found that more than half reported making better business decisions when there was a group involved. Group consensus is important to millennials, so managers should involve the entire team in the decision-making process. If something will affect the whole group and the decision didn’t involve consensus, tell them why.
- Use technology effectively. It’s no secret that millennials have a strong grasp of technology. No other generation has grown up with technology in virtually every aspect of their lives. Managers can connect with millennials by creating opportunities to use updated technology to complete business tasks. Millennials will be able to adopt it quickly and find ways to use it effectively. Evaluate which tools will truly improve workflow before adopting them, of course.
- Give regular feedback. Millennials seek out feedback on the work they’re doing. They want frequent updates on their successes and failures, so twice-yearly reviews probably won’t be enough. Because millennials grew up with instant gratification and feedback as the product of social media, they can take a lack of feedback to mean that they aren’t appreciated. One way managers can do this is by implementing mentorship programs in the workplace.
- Provide flexibility. Millennials are looking for flexibility in the workplace, in terms of both time and method. In fact, millennials will sacrifice pay to have a better work-life balance. They want the option to adjust their work schedule to fit their lives, with ample vacation time and the ability to work remotely. While not every job can accommodate these preferences, managers can find ways to build flexibility into daily work.
It is important to note that in key aspects of work like ethics, habits and teamwork, millennials aren’t actually that different from previous generations. Despite sometimes getting a bad rap, millennials bring unique perspectives and skill sets to the table that make them an asset to businesses. If managers are able to engage with millennials, they can unlock the potential of a new generation of skilled employees for future growth. When managers carry out strategies like those provided here effectively, they can see improvements in both team morale and performance.
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