Mission Impossible?

How to manage the millennial generation

With millennials (the roughly 77 million Americans born during the 1980s and 1990s) comprising an increasing part of the workforce, effective management is critical. It’s useful to delve into their work habits and attitudes, separating fact from fiction.

Perceptions and Misperceptions

Millennials might not be quite as indulged and antibusiness as they’re often depicted. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondents to a survey of millennials by Bentley University said that being successful in a well-paying career or profession is a vital objective. Most are willing to sacrifice to accomplish their objectives; for instance, 68% would be willing to move for their job.

Like most employees, millennials are anxious about compensation; after all, many of them graduate from college with substantial student loans. Most millennials responding to a 2014 study by Business Insider and News to Live By, a career advice site, rated compensation as the most important factor in a job.

Management Tips

Naturally, certain management strategies may be considered more important, and have a greater impact, by millennials than with older workers. Some of these can be enacted without causing disruption in the workplace:

Feedback. In a survey by Achievers, a provider of employee success software, 71% of millennials said they expect immediate, rather than annual or semiannual, feedback. That sounds both unrealistic and difficult to complete. However, the feedback can be as simple as a quick e-mail or a brief conversation about their progress on a project and its relation to the company’s overall mission.

Involvement with causes. Awareness that a company was committed to “cause work,” or other programs that assist both people and their communities, influenced job decisions for more than half of millennials, according to another survey by Achievers.

So consider publicizing the ways that your company contributes to the world through its products and services — a jewelry company, for instance, can discuss how its products help customers celebrate milestones in their lives. You also can perform manageable volunteer initiatives, such as team outings to clean up a local park.

Multiple ways to the top. Millennials strive to succeed both at work and at home; nearly 20% of fathers in the Bentley study said an ideal career would provide time off to be with their children. Creating multiple paths and time frames for their advancement may also serve as a way to retain these workers. That might mean, for example, allowing parents to reduce their hours while their children are young, while also remaining eligible for promotions.

Mission Possible!

Millennials, like every generation, will leave their own signature on the work world. Meanwhile, their goals often are similar to those of their older colleagues. Being able to separate the truth from the hype and, when there’s a good fit, implementing policies that will both engage and retain these workers, can improve your company’s overall performance, as well as fostering retention of skilled and motivated employees.

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