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Managing Millennials – A Guide to the Newest Generation of Workers
“They not only want a position in which their work is positively affecting the world – or at least their world – they seek one with fulfilling tasks. They want to be invested in the businesses they work for.”
As every generation enters adulthood, the business world is faced with a shifting workforce. While some could argue that workers don’t change too much generation to generation; I will disagree. This generation – the millennials – is perhaps the most removed from previous generations. These are the kids who grew up with computers and more channels on television than they knew what to do with. This is the generation that grew up with lessened discipline and a more relaxed educational environment, focused on nurturing and protection.
As this generation enters your workforce, you need to be aware both of their strengths and of their needs (that some may perceive as weaknesses).
THE ANATOMY OF A MILLENNIAL
Firstly, they are computer literate. The next generation will be even more so. They’ve grown up with computers, developing alongside them. The next generation won’t even remember the floppy disc. This familiarity with computers positions them to be a great asset in your company. They not only are already quite familiar with most programs, they digest new computer knowledge easily. They adapt and pickup new programs and new tools fast.
Secondly, they are very driven. They’ve been told their whole life that they can be anything that they set out to be. While this isn’t necessarily true, they’ve embraced a more entrepreneurial spirit. This is mostly possible because of the widespread growth of the Internet. Look at Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Kevin Systrom (Instagram) and David Karp (Tumblr); they’re all millennials. While the majority of millennials aren’t striking it rich like these mavericks, the generation embraces the ability to multitask their life. Unlike previous generations who set out to open and run a business, millennials shirk that traditional path. As a generation of multitaskers, they set out to get careers while working on their entrepreneurial dreams on the side.
This spirit is perhaps a part of the reason why millennials seek more meaningful careers. The days of assembly lines aren’t missed in this generation. They not only want a position in which their work is positively affecting the world – or at least their world – they seek one with fulfilling tasks. They want to be invested in the businesses they work for. They seek to contribute to their company and to be included in a higher level. They want to be promoted. They want to become decision makers. They want to know that they are contributing to something bigger than themselves. This investment in a position means that they may always be looking to leave a place that isn’t offering them that sense of ownership. On the other side, if your company can give them that satisfaction, then they will continue to work and grow in your business.
As a multitasking generation, the millennials have placed their life focus on more than just work. Previous generations would sacrifice a lot to succeed in the workplace – long work weeks, missed holidays, etc. The millennials on the other hand are seeking to succeed in work and in life. They are setting goals for their ascension up the career ladder, but they are also planning out their family and their life outside the office.
SETTING THEM UP FOR SUCCESS
While this generation is by and far the most welleducated generation, they do have their faults. In a workplace, they are looking for support, flexibility and structure.
Unlike previous generations, the millennials came of age in a time of constant connection. They are always connected via text message, social media and instant message to their community. While some say that this has vastly depleted normal social interaction, the biggest affect on the workplace is the inability to ever fully unplug. While some older souls still see the workplace as a sacred ground, where cell phones are on silent and tucked away, social media is turned off and email is used for work only; the majority of this generation cannot handle that complete separation. A workplace that allows for flexibility with social media may be more enticing for a millennial.
Similarly, this generation grew up in a school system and with parents that nurtured and protected them. Did you ever hear of the school rule that a teacher couldn’t tell a student their answer was wrong? That’s this generation. While most schools never took that extreme of a passive stance, they certainly weren’t rapping any hands with rulers.
Groomed to need and thrive on reinforcement, this generation needs to be told when they are doing a good job. Waiting for one-year reviews is not enough for a millennial. If they do a good job on a project, they need to hear about it. While some may view this reinforcement as the metaphorical gold star of a child, it is a real benefit to the business. Every metaphorical gold star spurs that millennial on to work harder and more efficiently. They crave the positive reinforcement and will work to get it.
If your business isn’t holding their attention; if your company isn’t providing them with the support or growth that they need, they will look for a new position. Most millennials have no qualms making career moves to improve their lot. While previous generations valued an employee’s loyalty, millennials see themselves as the core of their career. If they aren’t happy with the company they work for, they will find a company that makes them excited to come to work every day.
10 TRAITS OF THE BABY BOOMERS
80 Million Baby Boomers will leave the workforce in the next decade. They have been the main staple of the workforce. They make up the managers and higher level executives.
- They are Team Players
- They are Very Loyal
- Seek Mentorship Opportunities
- Defined by Professional Accomplishments
- Place Emphasis on Benefit Packages
- They Aren’t as Adaptable as Other Generations
- They Have a Strong Work Ethic
- Value In-Person Interaction
- Very Competitive in Workplace
- Don’t Shirk from Confrontation