two millennials fist bump

Tips for Managing Millennials in the Workplace

Millennials are the largest generation in the workforce, having recently passed both Baby Boomers and Generation X. By 2025, millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce. Unlike previous generations however, millennials continue to mystify HR departments and managers at all levels as their work ethics and style differentiate from their older colleagues. Despite their differences, it’s critical that organizations learn to welcome, understand, and manage this generation because they bring considerable expertise to the table in terms of operational and leadership skills that can benefit a business long-term.

Here are some tips to help you manage millennials in the workplace. Following these tips can help deliver happier, more engaged employees, and give your company a competitive edge for decades to come.

Tips for Managing Millennials

Dispel Common Stereotypes & Be Open Minded

There are many stereotypes and negativity surrounding millennials in the workplace. They may have a different work ethic and overall outlook of life than generations before them, but it’s important to dispel the misconceptions and see them as another qualified member of your team who will work to benefit your business.

Millennials have many similarities to everyone else on the team. Everyone appreciates compliments. Everyone enjoys having the proper tools and resources to do their job. Everyone likes having good rapport with their manager. Everyone also wants to be respected for their talents and feel like they have a fair chance at getting promoted based on their abilities.

Just like other employees on the team, millennials have their own unique skills and experience they bring to the workplace that often have nothing to do with their generation. As a manager, it’ll be important that you learn what their strengths and weaknesses are, and what opportunities there are for growth. Finding their true fit in your business will not only keep them engaged, but it will also help improve your business’ dynamic and contribute to your business’ goals.

Give Feedback Appropriately

The data shows that millennials are much more willing to leave their job than previous generations. While this trend has many different causes, managers have often been reluctant to give feedback to millennials for fear of offending them and seeing them just walk out the door. Millennials want to feel like they are being treated fairly and are respected by their peers and management just like other generational groups.

If you want to increase the likelihood of retaining your millennial employees, you should follow a simple rule of giving feedback when and where it is appropriate. Millennials, like other generations, appreciate a compliment, so never miss an opportunity to publicly praise them for a job well done. Mentioning an employee in an email to the entire department or stopping by their cubicle to give a compliment will help millennials feel valued.

Like every other employee, millennials are not perfect. They will make mistakes. When you need to give constructive feedback or criticism, always do it privately. Nobody wants to feel embarrassed in front of their coworkers by being called out in a public setting. Millennials can handle constructive feedback; they just prefer to get guidance feedback in a private setting.

Help Them Find Growth Opportunities

One of the worst things for the morale of millennial employees is boredom. Millennials want to feel like they are contributing to a business. They want their job to matter. They need opportunities to grow through new challenges. As a manager, you have the responsibility to help millennials create a personal development plan. Give them opportunities to learn new skills or more about the business.

One way to help the morale of your millennial employees while also helping yourself is to delegate some of your management tasks to them. At first, this will create more work for you to train them, but over time they will become an even more valuable member of the team and you will have increased your own capacity.

Be Open to Feedback and Suggestions for Improvement

While a lot has been written about how millennials handle feedback, not nearly as much thought has gone into how managers handle feedback from millennials. This generation desires to have their voices heard, which often takes the form of communicating issues and inefficiencies in the workplace.

While this desire to be heard can sometimes grate on managers, it is actually a golden opportunity for managers to show their leadership skills in handling appropriate feedback and being open to enact changes that make systems and operations better and faster.

Embrace Their Technical Aptitude

Millennials grew up with technology, mobile apps, and innovative platforms. They’re often the first ones we call when we have computer and internet problems, or when we need help figuring out how to use an app or a piece of software. They are also used to sending and receiving information as quickly as possible using automation and shortcuts when they can.

As a business, you will benefit from millennials having the technical skills to learn and train others on new software applications. They can also help make work processes and procedures more efficient, which can only increase productivity and benefit your bottom-line.

Consider Modifying Your Communication Style

In the age of social media, gaming, and vlogs, millennials send and receive information differently. If you want to keep millennials engaged, you may need to reconsider how you communicate with your employees. Lengthy in-person meetings and trainings, back and forth dialogue over email, and all-staff phone conferences may not be the most effective way to deliver a message to your millennial employees.

Consider using the communication modalities that millennial employees are familiar with like private chat apps like Slack or Basecamp, or an intranet with chat capabilities. Host short, small breakout meetings that focus on specific interests, departments, or committees. Popular apps like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangouts have become very popular during quarantine because they not only offer video functionality, but they also allow you to share your screen to present, train, record, and review documentation.

Learning to Manage Millennials

There’s no special treatment and no “right” way to manage millennials. As a good manager, it is important that you see and treat millennials just as any other employee. Know that they may have a different work ethic and job expectations, but just because they do, does not mean they are wrong. Those differences may actually benefit you as a manager, your team, and your business in the long-term. Be open-minded. You never know just how much your business grow, if you don’t embrace change and try new things. 

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