How to Manage Millennials in the Workplace

Millennial workers
Millennial workers

To best manage Millennials, you have to be ethical and fair

Numerous reports over the past years have addressed how Millennials will revolutionize the workplace. One particular study by IBM Institute for Business Value debunks five common myths many of us have about Millennials, and exposes three uncomfortable truths that apply to employees regardless of their age.

Myth 1:Millennials’ career goals are different from those of older generations.

Millennials actually have similar career goals as those of other generations. They want financial security and seniority just as much as Gen X and Baby Boomers, and Gen X and Baby Boomers are just as interested as Millennials in working with a diverse group of people.

Myth 2: Millennials want constant recognition.

Study respondents across generations ranked the top three attributes of their ideal boss, and Millennials indicated they appreciate ethics and transparency above all other leadership traits. Lesser importance was put on having a boss who recognized their accomplishments and asked for their input.

Gen X employees are almost as likely to want a supervisor who provides pats on the back, and Baby Boomers are more likely to want a boss who solicits their views. In addition, Millennials did not expect to have opportunities handed to them on a silver platter or receive lots of praise for their achievements. What they do desire is to be treated fairly.

Myth 3: There is a fundamental difference digital proficiency between Millennials and older employees.

Millennials are slightly more comfortable with virtual learning than their older colleagues, but Millennials’ top three preferences involve personal interaction such as attending a third-party sponsored event or conference; attending classroom training; and working alongside knowledgeable colleagues.

Like their older colleagues, Millennials are capable of discerning between the personal and professional realms and exercising discretion when they use social media. Surprisingly, Millennials actually access their personal social networks for professional reasons less frequently than Gen X employees.

Myth 4: Millennials can’t make a decision without first inviting everyone’s input.

Millennials are no more likely than many of their older colleagues to solicit advice at work. The study reports that more than half of all Millennials say they make better business decisions when a variety of people provide input. But, nearly two-thirds of Gen X employees say the same.

Myth 5: Millennials are more likely to change jobs if the position does not fulfill them.

Not true according to this evaluation report. If Millennials do change jobs, they do so for much the same reasons as Gen X and Baby Boomers.

Four key motives surfaced for why a Millennial would leave their current job: to enter the fast lane, shoot for the top, follow one’s heart or save the world. An article recommends treating Millennials as partners, celebrating and appreciating their talent. What they want is recognition through partnership, not trickle-down empowerment.

Obtaining buy-in with Millennials is another way to retain them. Leading this generation requires not only directing them, but also winning them over by pitching your ideas. In addition, reports it is likely Millennials will not identify with an organizational brand, but rather they will affiliate with their team of coworkers. So if you focus on the team, not the company, motivating and retaining this younger talent will be easier.

Challenging them is also a good way to breed success and loyalty. Create opportunities for them within the company and involve them with complex projects. In the meantime, you will be bolstering their resumes, which is something Millennials appreciate, and they will return this loyalty.

Uncomfortable truths across the generations

The following three insights, which were the same across generations, may give business leaders cause for concern:

Truth 1. More than half of those surveyed did not fully understand key elements of their organization’s strategy.

Truth 2. All three generations believe the customer experience is lacking. Employees of every generation think their organization handles the customer experience poorly.

Truth 3. Employees of all ages have embraced the technological revolution. More Millennials in careers means expectations in the workplace have increased for technology.

The study indicates enterprises are slow to implement new technological applications. All generations believe their organizations would rather maintain the poor customer service status quo than risk introducing new technologies that could improve the customer situation. Millennials are having a greater impact on today’s workplace and organizations need to create multigenerational environments for employees where everyone involved can thrive.