4 Tips for Managing a Millennial Workforce

Last year, millennials surpassed baby boomers as the largest generation in the United States. Born between 1981 and 1997, this generation will make up more than 50% of the workforce by 2020. Millennials have strong expectations when it comes to workplace culture, technology integration, and professional development, and are transforming the way businesses manage employees and leadership teams. Millennials will make up your future C-Suite. They may already be a majority in your organization. As the job market continues to grow, addressing their needs is necessary to hiring the best talent, staying competitive in your industry, and building a loyal workforce. So what makes them tick? Here are four of our best tips on managing millennials to help your employees thrive!

1. Ditch the Hierarchy

Millennials are collaborative and tend to function best in environments that foster teamwork. Research shows that rigid, top-down management just doesn’t work for the majority of this generation. One of the most highly-educated cohorts, millennials have been raised in teams—from playing sports in elementary school to working in groups for college presentations—so encouraging open collaborative is key. Millennials have been raised to embrace creativity and have a desire to make things better. Is their manager regularly cancelling one-on-one meetings and ignoring emails? Do they feel unable to pitch ideas in meetings? Are they being asked to innovative or just to execute tasks? This “wait-your-turn” mentality is harmful to managing a millennial, negatively impacts company culture and can be a detriment to engagement. If you want to reduce workplace friction and retain your millennial employees, eliminate the red tape inherent to a hierarchical workforce. Don’t just delegate tasks, share your strategy behind projects. Ensure your team has a solid understanding of why they’re doing the work they do, and they’ll be sure to reciprocate with critical thinking, attention to detail, and a genuine desire to deliver their best. Let them practice leading projects and share their ideas. They’ll work even harder when they know they’re valued.

2. Give Them Flexibility

Many employers are questioning the business sense inherent to a 9 - 5 job requirement. There’s a solid case for this, as research has shown that flexible schedules can increase morale, boost productivity, and are cost-effective. Flexible hours aren't just great for managing millennials, they're of great use to your whole staff. Allowing your employees flexibility is indicative of trust. Let your team schedule their own day! This could be as simple as a “work-from-home” day once a week. Not having to deal with a cumbersome commute will make them even more dedicated to getting their work done. Technology has made remote work seamless. You can loosen up the reigns on your employees while having the assurance that communication is just a click away.

3. Take Their Goals Seriously

We’ve all seen the statistics. Job-hopping has been the most prevalent among millennials compared to any other generation, with an average of three years per job. This has given millennials an unfairly bad rap. There’s a tendency to assume that millennials are fickle, lacking-focus, and unmotivated. In reality, millennials value their professional development above all else, and will get impatient with an employer that doesn’t care about their progress. Notice that millennials aren’t moving around as much as they are moving up. Want to inspire loyalty in a millennial? Give them the tools and resources they need to grow. Budget hours for professional development. Provide consistent feedback. Ask them what they want out of their careers and allow them to take those steps. In fact, one of the best ways to help millennials grow is to restructure performance reviews from annual evaluations to regular check-ins. Consistent feedback loops are key to communication and improved performance. Remember, it's not just about managing millennials: it's about fostering them!

4. Structure Face-To-Face Meetings

This is probably the biggest misconception that employers have about millennials. We’ve dubbed millennials as “digital natives” and have incentivized remote work, but don’t be fooled: When it comes to meetings – millennials value face-to-face communication. Understand the difference. Flexible hours and remote work are indicative of freedom and trust, but millennials don’t want to collaborate over screens. They value in-person teamwork. The 2016 Skift Report found that millennials consider face-to-face communication to be the best outlet to avoid miscommunication, meet deadlines, receive guidance, and ultimately further their career. From company culture and benefits to professional development, millennials are changing the way that we work. Companies that are willing to embrace these changes will be rewarded with a team of dedicated, inspired and driven employees that will help your business thrive.

Ready to take on the millennial workforce? Let us help you build the perfect team.