Who Are Millennials
Defining Millennials is an important factor in understanding how they will expect to be managed as they join your workplace. These are employees born between 1980 and 2000, or 1981 and 1999, depending on the source. Unlike Baby Boomers and X-Genners, Millennials have developed work characteristics and life approaches from doting parents, structured lives, and contact with diverse people.
Changing approaches in education and sport which favored team environments and shared projects over autonomous work and play means Millennials prefer working collaboratively in teams. They are more likely to make friends at work unlike their older generational colleagues. They tend to have been exposed to a more multi-cultural environment either in their home cities or through travel. It is more likely that they grew up in two income families and went to pre-school, before school and after school activities and as a consequence have better developed social skills and are used to lives full of activities.
They expect to have variety in their work day and presume that they will be successful and well rewarded for their work as they have been at home. Unlike X-Genners (who entered the workforce during times of recession) they are positive, confident, and ready to change the world.
Their days as children have been structured by parents and schools alike so they are expecting structure, process and knowledge from their coworkers. However they are very egalitarian and will also expect their ideas to be listened to, respected and probably acted upon. The many activities they have been used to means they have not experienced boredom to any great extent. They await their next challenge and expect that these will follow as night does day. They do not enjoy iterative activities.
This is the most connected generation in history and they know new opportunities can be accessed in minutes if they are not getting what they want in your workplace.
8 Tips for Managing Millennials
- Structure. No one wants to be fenced in however of all the generations, Millennials want to know the boundaries. They like rules and are less likely to break them then Baby Boomers or X-Genners.
- Knowledge. Millennials want to learn from you. They are voracious at scanning and understanding new information at a global level, and using what they need to further their careers. They want to understand the “bigger” picture, where the company is going as well as what’s up tomorrow.
- Recognition. Millennials have been rewarded and applauded by their parents, teachers and sporting coaches. They want that same level of recognition in the workplace. Not just for big achievements either, they expect to be recognized for milestone activities along the way.
- Listen. Millennials grew up being listened to by everyone in their lives. Their ideas were respected and encouraged. They expect the same in their workplace and will have no trouble telling older colleagues their opinions. They won’t tolerate being seen and NOT heard.
- Challenge. They seek out new challenges personally and professionally. So volunteering is valued equally with paid employment as long as the challenge is exciting. They don’t understand a vertical career or gold watch after 40years loyal service. Don’t bore them, ignore them, or dismiss their ideas.
- Phone. This generation communicates like no other. They can also multi-task, texting, talking while doing email and answering multiple instant messages. This is a way of life. Many workplaces still prefer employees without phones so beware, that will not suit the Millennials.
- Balance. Millennials fill their lives with a wide range of activities. They may play a sport after work or on weekends, activate for a cause and spend lots of time with family and friends. They are not into the sixty hour work weeks defined by the Baby Boomers. Balance is important.
- Fun. Millennials want to enjoy their work, their workplace and their colleagues. having friends in the company will keep them loyal, longer. Worry if they aren’t laughing, going out after work with colleagues and helping plan company events.
Just as no size fits all situations, descriptions around generational characteristics are more general than specific. That said internet research counts, 75,000,000 millennials will join the workforce. These are desirable employees. Make work fun, in a structured environment where they will . be listened to and recognized for their contributions. They are the workforce of your future so time spent with them will deliver a massive return on your investment.