How to Manage Millennials in the Workplace

Tanya Pinto
How to Manage Millennials in the Workplace

Gone are the days when once hired, an employee would stay with the company for at least half his or her career. Contrary to patiently climbing the corporate ‘ladder’ of hierarchy, younger employees now want a job that is challenging and motivating. This new trend is rapidly sweeping over organisations around the world, leaving employers baffled about how to manage the upheaval. It’s now clear that the new-age employees, or Millennials, have arrived.

Millennials constitute over half the global workforce and have a unique set of ideals. In these times of stark competition to attract and retain talent, companies must act quickly. Employers should willingly adapt to the needs of new-age employees. The first step to attain this is to thoroughly understand what makes Millennials tick.

A job with a motivating purpose

This one may come as no surprise, but it is almost a universal truth that Millennials need something more than just a fat paycheck to appease them. Younger employees want a sense of fulfilment and a motivating purpose to keep going back to work. They want to see that their work is actually making a difference to the organisation or world. They want to see a tangible impact that their work brings about. Simply put, Millennials no longer want to be cogs in a corporate’s wheel.

Opportunities to learn and develop

For Millennials, learning doesn’t stop with university. They want a career which allows them to learn new and relevant skills, helping them develop into experts in their domain. They also want clear opportunities for growth within the company, without the drudgery of being stuck in one role for several years together. As Millennials have an idealistic view of meritocracy, they would rather prefer an employer who doesn’t judge their age or seniority in the company, but someone who considers their individual merit and strong contributions.

Aversion to the corporate ‘ladder’

As lucidly described by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, younger employees are giving the whole idea of a corporate ladder a pass. Instead, they are now replacing the ladder with a ‘jungle gym’ instead. This means that Millennials are unwilling to wait patiently for several years before it’s their turn to climb the ladder to a better role – instead they are not afraid to shift jobs, try new roles or even take up a lower designation just to gain a foothold in a new, exciting domain.

Inspiring mentor or role model

Millennials have witnessed the stellar rise of unconventional tech heroes like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, who achieved blazing success with unusual careers. It makes sense why younger people are giving up a linear career path to take up a role that excites them instead. However, this underlines the need for better mentorship for Millennials within organisations – probably a more senior employee who can keep an eye on impressive talent and help him or her find satisfying roles within the organisation itself, without feeling the need to look elsewhere. Alternatively, an engaged employer or an inspiring team leader can serve as a role model to Millennials who want reassurance about their career prospects in the company. 

Digital technologies at the workplace

Millennials have experienced the advent of the very best social communication and networking technologies, which have helped bring people across the world even closer. Video conferencing allows employees to attend important meetings even from outside the office; LinkedIn offers a better detailing of a prospective employee than the traditional CV, Facebook allows a peek into an employee’s personality outside of work. However, this constant connectivity through technology can also cause undue strain and pressure on employees – requiring them to be available to the employer 24/7. This requires employers to be more agile and balance the scales – by offering employees new-age benefits like working remotely through an online system and replacing a barrage of instruction-ridden emails with task-organising apps instead.

Encouraging diversity and inclusion

This is probably the most defining characteristic. Millennials constitute various kinds of young people, including ambitious women and employees from disadvantaged backgrounds. Employers need to keep up to this change, and let go of dilapidating stereotypes to embrace positive changes instead. These would include neutralizing the undue challenges that certain employees face on account of their gender, race or ethnic culture. For example – younger male employees today do not pride themselves on being perpetually at the office; instead want a healthy work-life balance to spend adequate time with family. Women want the opportunity to keep their jobs even after having kids, aiming to have a challenging career even after motherhood. With simplified global connectivity, Millennials now constitute an international mix – a company is more likely to have employees from various ethnic backgrounds. This calls for an urgent need for present-day employers to review archaic systems of work, promotions and time off – letting go of discriminative stereotypes and accommodating the needs and hopes of Millennials. 

Further reading:

Supporting your employees by mentoring instead of managing

Moaning millennials? Generation Y just want a job they can enjoy.

Millennials & Management: The Essential Guide to Making It Work at Work

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