The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

January 12, 2018

How to Manage Millennials


By 2015, millennials had surpassed Gen-X’ers to become the most represented generation in the U.S. workforce. By 2025, a decade after hitting the aforementioned milestone, it is projected that millennials will make up 75% of the world’s working population. Although it is important not to make sweeping generalizations, it also goes without saying that millennials are unlike any generation that has preceded them and therefore stimulate much debate and conversation, particularly in regards to how to deal with them in the workforce.

Provide Opportunities for Development

Millennials tend to require more stimulant than other generations. They can get bored easily at work, at which time they become a flight risk. Being eager for new experiences and wanting to learn more means that in order to retain millennials and push them to work to their fullest potential, management of millennials requires that you provide them with the chance to learn and achieve short-term goals. Millennials are motivated by the promise to fine-tune their skills. In fact, 58% of millennials in the workplace expect their employers to provide them with learning opportunities relevant to the job.

Plant the Seed for Growth

Being the youngest generation present in the workforce, naturally, millennials want to be given the chance to grow. Motivated by their fear of complacency and need to be challenged, millennials want to know that they are achieving goals, creating change and not just merely climbing the ladder. Forty-five percent of millennials would quit their job if they didn’t see a career path they wanted at the company. Branded as the generation of change, not only are millennials inspired to create positive impact and make waves, they crave the opportunity to lead but not before they have learned as much as is afforded to them.

Mentors Mold Leaders

Your management style with millennials will not be the same as with other generations. This isn’t about giving special treatment but rather being adaptable in order to drive results. Millennials infamously lack respect for traditional models of authority. Moreover, they are less receptive to rigid instruction but rather want mentor-like figures who are approachable, encouraging and good listeners. Being the generation of over-communication and connectedness; frequent conversations and check-ins with them will provide them with validation and recognition, off of which they thrive. It is less about hand-holding and more about rewarding work well-done and regrouping after downfalls. Professionalism and integrity will earn managers’ respect from millennials, therefore you should avoid relying on the hierarchical structure to expect obedience to your authority. Millennials will eventually be leading in all industries as the natural progression of an aging workforce would suggest. This being said, your leadership of millennials is molding the future of the workforce.

The Juggling Act of Life

Millennials are less likely to speak about “work/life balance” because they see the line between those two factions as ever-blurring. They understand that work is a part of life and oftentimes cannot be separated. As such, they seek flexibility with their employment: the option to work from home, to be provided with chances to bond with coworkers and paid time off that allows them to disconnect entirely. In return, they give more during busy seasons and will make themselves available for work and work-related activities outside of the confines of the workday. Millennials are not rushing home to cook dinner or pick up kids from school, as such they can offer longer hours dedicated to work and tend to be more social with colleagues in and outside of the office. It has been found that 70% of millennial workers do 20 hours or more outside of the office each week. But they aren’t necessarily doing the work for the money.

Money Moves

Money doesn’t necessarily motivate millennials the way it does with other generations. This generation of renters although saving for eventual home-ownership is also prone to delay marriage and kids and therefore is more career-focused for a longer amount of time. Millennials spend the majority of their money on experiences; be it dining out, traveling or seeing live shows, having fun and indulging in experiences are paramount. As such, do not think that money can be thrown at millennials to curb unhappiness in the office. Company culture trumps money for the majority of millennials, 78% of millennials in fact. This generation of aspirers finds more value in enjoying work, learning and making a difference, than coming home with an impressive paycheck. This is promising news for managers who know they can’t compete with larger companies offering larger commensuration. If this is the case, focus on making company culture inviting. Strive to make work enjoyable or at the very least, offer activities and challenges to balance its mundanity. Be flexible and offer flexibility to your staff too. Be open and listen to the ideas of millennials; the generation that will eventually be at the top of the food chain of the corporate sphere.

For more on how millennials make for great recruiters, click here.

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