How to Engage With Millennial Employees

The May 2013 edition of Time Magazine splashed the title Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation across its cover to address the stereotypes of a group often labeled as overindulged, narcissistic and “trophied.” But, like it or not baby boomers and Gen Xers, millennials are here to stay. As of 2015, millennials became the most represented group in the United States workforce according to Pew Research Center, and this number is projected to grow to almost 50 percent by 2020.

Despite the bad press, millennials bring a unique perspective to the table. Just like the generations before them, they are challenging the way things are done. Many of the best practices in managing the youngest workers will improve the workplace for all.

Emphasize the Why

Millennials want to make a difference, as do previous generations. However, after growing up in a society that encouraged the voicing of opinions, they may be more likely to challenge a directive. Therefore, it is important for managers to clarify the company’s specific objectives and goals and to focus on the “why” as well as the “what.”

Promote a Healthy Work/Life Balance

The prospect of a 9 to 5 job and then retirement after thirty or forty years may not appeal to millennials. Often, they are looking for work/life integration with greater flexibility. They hope to enjoy their jobs, rather than view them as a burden to be endured. Although this is a tall order for employers, it is an opportunity also. Young workers may be more motivated by flex hours or additional vacation time rather than a year-end bonus.

Make the Most of Their Tech Skills

It is difficult to imagine a millennial without their cell phone. Having grown up with the ubiquitous presence of technology, millennials tend to be more comfortable adapting to new developments. Companies should leverage this knowledge to their advantage. Most managers would not hesitate to seek the advice of an older, more experienced colleague. Similarly, they should consult their youngest workers about the latest mobile and social media trends.

Counteract Turnover Rates

According to a 2016 Gallup Poll, 21 percent of millennials changed jobs within the last year at an estimated cost of $30.5 million to the U.S. economy. And why do millennials leave? Predominantly because they are not engaged in their jobs. To combat this tendency, bosses should keep open lines of communication, mentor, coach and foster the entrepreneurial spirit of their younger workers. Millennials should feel they have a future within the company.

Lastly, it is vital to avoid typecasting. An employee can be difficult or easy to manage, tech savvy or a luddite, extremely loyal or a job hopper regardless of the year they were born. The trick is to identify and cultivate the strengths of all employees regardless of their generational label.

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