How to Manage Millennials in the Workplace

Employers can increase loyalty among their millennial employees—improving retention rates— and improve productivity. In this article, learn about the millennial generation and steps you can take to manage workers who make up a large portion of today’s workforce.


Related: How to Manage Employees


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An overview of millennials in the workplace

Millennials consist of people born in the 1980s and 1990s, so the generation began entering the workforce in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Professionals from this generation make up the majority of the workforce today. For this reason, it’s critical that managers become adept at hiring, training and leading millennials. 


The first step in learning to manage millennials is understanding their motivations, goals and ideals. Most millennials are motivated by the knowledge that their work is contributing to the greater good or making a difference in society. Instead of focusing primarily on career advancement or material success, a millennial often prioritizes finding a healthy work/life balance and setting goals that allow them to improve as an individual. Millennials typically enjoy working with teams that value creativity, innovation and technology. 


By making changes that appeal to a millennial employee’s personal motivations, you can maximize productivity and inspire loyalty, reducing company turnover. 


Related: 11 Tips to Effectively Manage Remote Employees


Best practices for managing millennials 

While each employee will have their own unique perspectives, there are some measurable differences in how millennials were educated and raised. Here are some best practices you can employ when managing a team of millennials:


Emphasize teamwork

Many millennials grew up participating in group projects and team activities. By making teamwork part of your company culture, you take advantage of what is a common strength. Teams comprised of capable individuals and led by strong leadership have the potential to be extraordinarily productive. 


Provide learning opportunities

Millennials are motivated by the desire to acquire and hone new skills. Provide your millennial employees the opportunity to learn new methods, increase their expertise and broaden their knowledge to continually challenge them. Because millennials are ambitious and look for opportunities to advance professionally, consider offering bonuses, rewards or promotions to high-performing employees.


Offer the right benefits

Millennials are not as motivated by compensation as older generations. Instead of appealing to job candidates by promising competitive salaries, offer attractive compensation packages instead. Include benefits like flexible schedules, additional PTO and work from home options. Because millennials appreciate a comfortable work environment, consider adding unique amenities like a coffee bar or an employee lounge. This helps to attract talented millennial employees and improve retention rates.


Recognize their accomplishments

Because millennials like regular feedback on their progress and commendations when they succeed it’s helpful to be intentional about commending them on their efforts, recognizing their work especially when they exceed expectations. 


Focus on results

Older generations often value regular, fixed work schedules and dress codes whereas millennials tend to be focused on end results. As a manager, giving employees a bit of leeway with these more traditional rules can help your millennial team members stay focused on the end result.


Practice mentorship

Millennials appreciate leaders who are approachable and offer mentorship and guidance. Earn the respect of your millennial team members through consistent actions and professionalism. 


Utilize their strength with technology

Millennials are highly adept with technology and social media. Companies can capitalize on their expertise to increase their own online presence. Consider setting up mentoring programs where millennials could share skills with other, older members of your team.


Give them a voice

Millennials grew up in a world where they could voice their opinion. Take advantage of their eagerness to offer feedback and use it as a potential source for ideas and innovation. Their comfort with technology also makes it easy for you to ask questions and collect and analyze their feedback. 


Managing millennials FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about working with millennials:


What skills do millennials bring to the workplace?

Millennials are known for possessing many essential professional skills. These include:


  • Millennials are known for their ability to process and internalize information quickly. They are often highly skilled in reading comprehension and data analysis. Growing up in the digital age, millennials are also proficient in conducting research online and recognizing false information.

  • Millennials grew up alongside groundbreaking technological advances like cellphones, laptops and the Internet. They are familiar with many different types of technology and often find it easy to learn to use new programs or devices. Millennials are motivated by a drive for efficiency which is often benefited by their skill with technology.

  • Many millennials were entering the workforce during an economic downturn and difficult recovery period. This caused them to learn self-sufficiency and become highly resourceful. 

  • Work environments are increasingly collaborative, which is good for millennials who excel as part of a larger team.

What kind of work ethic do millennial employees have?

Millennial employees are focused on completing tasks and getting results. They often evaluate their positions and then identify the best and fastest way to complete the tasks associated with their role.


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