How Employers Can Understand Millennials

By Madison White on November 14, 2016
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With so much content being written about the millennial generation, how can you as an employer possibly understand them? In truth, much of the content on millennials is very exaggerated and makes them seem much more difficult than they really are.

Millennials and the future generation, Generation Z, have a ton of wonderful qualities that will ensure your company’s future success when recognized and acted upon properly.

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1. Flexibility

It isn’t a big surprise that millennials still crave some sense of flexibility within their jobs — they are young, after all. Millennials are typically dubbed the “adultescent” generation, which means they don’t usually jump right into typical adult things like marriage and stable jobs.

For many millennials, they may be still in college or right out of it. This means that the lifestyle they’re used to is one of nearly complete self-scheduled freedom. They can usually choose when to work and how, often picking up multiple different jobs at one time. They are used to flexibility so if you’re trying to push them into an 8-hour workday doing the same thing every day, they won’t be quite so satisfied.

If anything, make their jobs varied and interesting. Millennials are overwhelmingly curious and will be apt to learn just about any skill they deem valuable, so you should absolutely take advantage of this.

2. Multitasking

Just as they are flexible, millennials are usually juggling a ridiculous amount of things at one time. Somehow, they even seem comfortable with it.

However, juggling multiple things also means a good deal of distractions. It makes it easy for millennials to put things off so to compensate, let them work on multiple projects at one time, but make sure to give them specific guidelines and deadlines for when and how it should be done. This gives them a clear goal to work toward, good for any employee, and the range to decide how quickly they want to work on it among other things.

You may think that employees can’t handle more than one thing at a time, but the millennial generation may just prove you wrong.

3. Connectedness

Millennials are increasingly aware of themselves and the people around them at all times. In fact, most of their lives become public when in the work setting and remain so even when they go home.

Because this generation grew up largely with the internet, they have difficulty feeling isolated when they’ve always been so connected to the rest of the world. Millennials will not ignore other groups of people even if they aren’t directly around them. If you want your millennial employees to thrive, you want to make sure they feel connected to their workplace and furthermore, that your workplace is connected to the outside world. Few people enjoy working in a bubble.

4. Importance and Recognition

The millennials receive a lot of criticism from other generations for needing too much recognition and attention. The common “participation trophy” anecdote is used to illustrate such a need to feel valued.

As a millennial, I see little issue with making sure your millennial employees, and all employees in fact, feel valued constantly. In reality, millennials are the budding generation in the workforce. They are younger, newer, and doubtful of their current abilities. Wouldn’t you want some reassurance too?

Millennials will be much more apt to improve themselves and take criticism constructively if they are also being praised and recognized for their positive actions. If all they ever hear is negativity, their drive to improve will wane dramatically. Their importance to the company likely feels uncertain at this time, so make sure they know that they are indeed very necessary to the company.

5. Feedback

Piggybacking off of importance and recognition, feedback is also crucial to millennials’ success. Though they may be very skilled and qualified for a position, their age and experience will likely cause them to doubt their real success as an employee. In fact, the employee will likely start out doing many great things, but without positive feedback, will stop doing them in fear that they aren’t needed.

If your employee does something well, let them know. Their positive output will probably increase twofold just by a simple recognition of their job well done. Similarly, millennials can definitely take criticism despite some popular stereotypes. However, really vague and negative feedback isn’t helpful at all. If you make suggestions on how to improve, your employees will be much more likely to actually follow through.

Millennials comprise a bright, vibrant, driven, compassionate, and active generation. All these assets aren’t that hard to capitalize on. Of course, managing employees isn’t a “one size fits all” but recognizing the changes that may be happening in your workforce is necessary in keeping everything running smoothly for many years to come. Millennials can help you with that future success.

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By Madison White

Uloop Writer
Wichita State University
My list of places traveled is growing but will never exceed my list of places to travel next.

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