“Generation Me” In The Workplace: Getting ready For The Millennial “Takeover”
This year is a turning point for American generations. The oldest Baby Boomers are turning 70! GenXers are nearing 50. Tech-savvy Millennials (1980-1999) are now the fastest growing group entering the workforce. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, 80 million Millennials have begun entering the world of work. It is anticipated that Millennials will be roughly 50% of the USA workforce in 2020 and 75% of the global workforce by 2030.
I have written about generational issues in the past. However, given the Millennial workplace “takeover,” I thought this watershed moment might be a good time to review some of the latest information and statistics about how to successfully manage Millennial employees.
These children of Boomers and GenXers will shape the culture of the 21st century workplace; attracting the best of these workers is critical to the future of your business.
So, let me share some of the interesting things that I have learned about this generation of people who, psychologist Dr. Jean Twenge writes, “are tolerant, confident, open-minded, and ambitious but also disengaged, narcissistic, distrustful, and anxious.”
- It’s important for Millennials to feel valued. Let them know that their work matters — how it impacts the company’s ability to serve its customers. Take an interest in the individual’s career aspirations by hiring and supporting/sponsoring for career success. Make them feel as though they are part of a “work family” that supports achievement and their career goals. This will engender loyalty to the company.
- Millennials demand a work/life balance. Family responsibilities and personal aspirations are at least as important, if not more important, than their professional goals. Provide flexible work arrangements for both men and women to spend more time with their families. Offer parental leave in a way that both parents feel their jobs are secure.
- Create multiple paths and timeframes for individuals to reach leadership positions. This particular characteristic of Millennials — their ambition and desire to keep learning and move quickly upwards through an organization, as well as their willingness to move on quickly if their expectations are not being met— requires a focused response from employers.
- Provide a fun, employee-centered workplace. Millennials want to enjoy their work and their workplace. Making friends at the office is important to them. Worry if your Millennial employees aren’t laughing, going out with workplace friends for lunch, and helping plan the next company event or committee.
- Millennials want to explore life to the fullest, as opposed to Boomers who are much more work-focused and competitive. They are a generation that is inclined to take on their “bucket-list” now instead of waiting for retirement.
- Teamwork and making group decisions is of great value to Millennials who do not adhere to the “I can do it myself and thus reap more of the rewards” approach. Used to working in teams, they want to make friends at work and work well with diverse coworkers. They believe that a team can accomplish more and better than an individual.
- Millennials use of technology clearly sets them apart from older generations. One of their defining characteristics is an affinity with the digital world. Having grown up with broadband, smart phones, laptops and social media and instant access to information being the norm, this is the first generation to enter the workplace with a better grasp of these key business tools than more senior workers.
- Millennials work best with clear guidelines and frequent and immediate feedback and encouragement. They also expect to have their ideas solicited and respected. Used to having loving parents who have scheduled their lives around their activities and events as children, they don’t take kindly to having their thoughts ignored.
- The ultimate multi-taskers, these young folks can talk on the phone while doing email and answering multiple instant messages. They are likely to experience boredom without many different tasks and goals to pursue within a week. As a manager, be sure to take advantage of your Millennial employees’ computer, cell phone and electronic literacy.
Despite differences in the Boomers’ and Millennials’ respective DNA, their approaches to work and life can lead to great results once they come to respect each other’s views. This will require the leadership of a skilled listener and an open thinker and delegator who keeps the two groups in sync.
Challenges lie ahead for companies looking to retain and advance the newest generation of workers, but any company willing to meet those challenges can expect big payoffs in the form of a well-educated, hard working, and loyal workforce. However, it’s a challenge very much worth taking on.
If you are interested in having a look at my three-part series of articles about the generational divide in the workplace, please visit the following links:
Overcoming The Generational Divide In The Workplace: