Millennials in the workplace have worked up quite the reputation. They’re needy. They hate working. They want promotions yesterday. The evidence behind the rumors? Fairly incomplete and not quite comparable to the accusations. Millennials work differently, this is undeniable. Their habits, however, have thus far been thrust into the image of a twenty-something and deemed unfit for the working world. What hasn’t been largely considered is the benefits that come from millennial preferences. The advantages companies can gain by not catering to their needs, but compromising with them and adapting to the new, evolving work culture that this generation considers natural.
When it comes to managing an office that is mosaicked in age, the millennial bracket needs special attention. Scheduling quarterly reviews to review performance tepidly will not cut it with this crew. They need daily, thoughtful check-ins. Frequent, thought-provoking tasks and new realms of responsibility. Strive for excellent organization by using online scheduling software. Managing this generation expertly is reflected in the quality of the company. Their adaptability. Their flexibility. Their willingness to change, when in fact, the world before us is changing.
Millennials might be the most disruptive workforce we’ve yet encountered, and it should not be digested as a rotten quality. In fact, they are disrupting work culture for the better. They’re demanding change. They hate working at a desk for the sake of occupying a leased office space. They want promotions into positions that demand their continuous growth. A growth which, collectively, fuels a hotter fire within the company overall. Projects pick up speed, employees of all ages balance work and life better. Balances are made and found in the intricacies of the never-only-eight-hour days we all face.
So let’s dive behind the scenes of this group that just will not silence their motives. Let’s look at the group in depth, how they were raised and how that translates into work habits. Then let’s discuss how to best manage and oversee the millennial generation for best results. I think you will be pleasantly intrigued by the idea of millennials as a positive force, not a negative one.
What is a millennial? A millennial does not come with precise bookends for age, but experts ballpark the early 1980s through early 2000s to segment birth years. Millennials are sometimes referred to as the Echo Boomers because they are the direct offspring of the Baby Boomers.
Millennials are digitally native; they’ve grown up through the evolution of technology, so from their youngest years, they have learned how to adapt to technological advancement. They enjoy working in urban areas and are more civic-minded than previous generations, linking more closely to the generation that grew up in the U.S. during the Great Depression. This generation, coined The Greatest Generation or G.I. Generation fought in WWII and made significant contributions to the war effort through material productivity. Like The Greatest Generation, Millennials are believed to have or to be developing a strong sense of community locally and globally.
On the contrary, millennials have also earned a rep for their narcissism and sense of entitlement. This runs in tandem with the significance increase amongst millennial teenagers’ emphasis on wealth. Compared to the 45 percent of their parents who valued wealth as teens, 75 percent of millennials. The notion of developing a meaningful philosophy of life is also significantly less in millennials.
That testament, of course, is questionable, some millennials tend to live their philosophy more than they seek it out. Additionally, it is argued that the overall perception of the millennial group is limited to a white, affluent sector of teenagers that were babied as children, spoiled in sports and helicoptered over by parents. The negative traits- which, again, are arguable in themselves as well- are narrowly focused on a very particular set of young adults who most frequently inundate the workforce.
Millennials are famously known for their role as trophy kids. Awards are handed out for best team spirit and most stylish walk from home plate to first base. Parents petitioned for more teams in the league so that no children were left behind or feeling unworthy of making the team. The stereotype is that all millennials accept golden stars simply for existing. But we will see below how this translates into a slightly different reality.
Millennials are not the only sector in the workforce that require special attention. Every generation has had an impact on work culture and come with their own qualms over which bosses have had to come. Millennials are different, yes. And they do absorb a massive amount of our current interest. Books are flying off shelves, promising to enlighten the rest of the human race on how to interact with this bunch. Millennial is practically trending, every day at all times.
Now, let’s get into how this generation was raised and why it is so impactful on the workforce.
- They value the importance of time From their earliest years, this group has been overstretched across school, sports, music, social and tech. If there’s one thing at which they are professionals (and honestly, there are many!), it is time management and efficiency. In the workplace, you will likely find millennials irritated at long employee lunches or happy hours. If there is work to be done, they like to finish the work and get on with their post-work lives which likely still include several activities like working out, socializing with friends, an intramural sport, and a personal hobby.
- Millennial employees are representatives of the best education in the workforce. They have the most education, the highest SAT scores and the longest track record of technologically savvy skills. This group is well-educated and overly capable of learning what you teach them, quickly. They grasp onto concepts like pepper to breakfast and rarely need repeating twice. Often, you’ll find the generation claiming boredom at work. This happens because they don’t need six weeks of training. They’ve been trained in school and in extra-curricular’s to need days. Maybe even hours. They don’t need three weeks for a project. They know how to work diligently and produce a good effort in one week. This generation studies differently. Grasps information differently. Retains differently. It only makes sense that they are working differently.
- Many Millennials were raised by parents who took a step back and warped their parenting style to the child’s preference. Outfits were chosen at haphazard desire, and school swappings were requested without rebuttal, performances in sports were selected after personal deliberation, not joint. Millennials have, in their minds, always been in charge. Responsibility is a comfort. A right. Their essence. When most millennials arrive at the workplace, they are thrown off course by the lack of responsibility. They have just prepared for nearly a decade of higher schooling. They have learned everything about the industry. It is their first job. Their first apartment. There is so much fuel in the fire, but nobody ignites the flame. It is tantalizing for the young employee to want so desperately to make a difference. To make decisions. And to be given no hint of any such deciding power.
- Work-life balance is an actual thing. In this group, they are not fighting for a life and a paycheck. They are demanding it. They are taking jobs that are well below their qualifications because the hours are more conducive to an enriched life. They were raised by parents who made it to fifty and could not stop talking about how they wished they had lived; how they wished that they had slaved less to a paycheck. In the workplace, there is little room for compromising.
- Ethics matter. Millennials are known more and more to turn down jobs because they serve no ethical purpose and provide no contribution to any matter that ripple effects the world at large. They have been involved in and well-educated on small ways to make a big difference. And it is their children and grand-children who are to face the future; not you and your ancestors. They care slightly less about the past and incredibly much about the future. What are you doing to make a difference? To be a company paving an ethically impressive trail?
- Feedback is necessary. Frequently. Millennials have been so well-trained and well-coached their entire lives, that they expect one-on-one advice and mentorship all the time. One of the most dismaying unearthings millennials face in their first job(s) is the lack of leadership and personal support. There is nobody demanding results, nobody checking in to see what they are learning. There is no mentorship. And we get it; somebody has to work to pay the bills. But it is essential to this generation that a priority in the company exists to nurture their education and fastidiousness in your office.
So how can you accommodate your young workforce? With practice, for sure. And with strategic direction. Managing millennials well is good for them, good practice for you, and it’s most likely to benefit your company profits largely.
- Be up front with the week’s schedule by having a working and open scheduling software in place. This will show when you can extend some flexibility for work options during social hours. Not all employees are overjoyed at using two hours to chat with folks for whom can barely find room to compartmentalize socially. Is there a chance that this disrupts your intentions for a cohesive work group? Sure. But by requiring extended involvement, you increase the likelihood of tension between you and your employee or between the younger staff and the older. Propose a mandatory thirty minutes with the option to stay for ninety. Wherever your timeline is running, meet your millennials in the middle.
- Do not baby your young employees. Discuss with them your expectations of their work and schedule, but ask for their opinion, too. If they can finish the work much more quickly than you quoted, settle for the half of that time. Instill the importance of patience, but don’t give so much time on a project that you render your workers restless.
- Give your newcomers responsibility. It doesn’t have to be a task that makes or breaks the company’s image or success. But it should be weighty enough that the employee doesn’t consider it bait for bigger bait. If you do not have time to ponder what sorts of responsibilities you can bestow upon your golden graduates, assign the mission to other, older millennials who both understand the incoming perspective and need a new set of charge for their purposefulness at work. Some ideas: ordering office supplies, arranging out-of-office activities, setting up happy hours, bringing in lunch hours, collecting data from staff on inefficiencies in the best practices. Don’t assign these jobs forever, but one layered on another will help keep millennials restiveness at bay.
- Be open to work life balance. Your creativity on the matter and ability to compromise is going to please more than the young-ins. You have plenty of older, longer-worked employees that have made ample sacrifice in order to stay on track to the top of the ladder and perform diligently for their company. Millennials might be demanding balance so they can see their friends or spin or finish an art project, but their directors might like to make it to their child’s recital or get home early to help with homework. Collaborating to find a healthy work-life balance is going to benefit your company because it effects every single employee. Well, maybe not the workaholics. But hey, it might help them, too!
- Extend efforts of social responsibility, and often. This is a no-brainer. It is good for attracting new employees, for your brand and for you! Materialize a code of ethics or conjure some new ways to make a difference in the community.
- Assign mentors to new employees and as they graduate from one position to the next, maintain the same mentor (as long as relevant). Considering making it a part of your budget to hire an employee who serves solely as a mentor in your company, coaching staff through the evolutions of their careers. If mentorship isn’t feasible right away, schedule weekly check-ins with directors. Sit in when you can. Show that their work and their continually increasingly velocity in their work is noticed, appreciated, and expected to surge continually.
Maybe, just maybe, we should be tipping our hats to millennials in the workforce. For some automated ideas and solutions for catering to this generation (including appointment scheduling software and appointment software), check out Appointment-Plus.