22 October 2014

Managing millennials: A field guide

Millennials are the first generation in a digital era where the world is truly global and information is instantly available. But what makes them tick and how do you manage this tech savvy group of employees?

Managing millennials is a different task to managing the Generation X cohort or ‘Baby Boomer’ generation – millennials have different career expectations when compared to their predecessors. Deloitte’s annual Millennial (Generation Y) Survey says that “big demands and high expectations” summarises the results of its 2014 report. The report (which surveyed nearly 7,800 millennials from 28 countries around the world), states that many millennials are already in leadership positions in technology and other industries, and will make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Other key findings from the report include:

  • Businesses could do more to address problems in society. 50% of those surveyed want to work for businesses with ethical practices, 55% believe that businesses can do more to address climate change, 56% want to address lack of global resources, and 49% would like to address income inequality.
  • Companies should promote innovative thinking. 78% of millennials want to work for organisations that support innovation, and most say their current employer doesn’t encourage them to be creative. 63% said management attitude was the biggest barrier to innovation, and 61% blamed operation structures and procedures.
  • Companies must encourage future leaders. One in four millennials want a chance to show their leadership skills. And 50% think their employers should do more to develop emerging leaders.
  • Millennials want to ‘make a difference’. Generation Y value more than just financial success – they also consider business success in terms of improving society. 63% of millennials give to charities, 43% engage in volunteering activities and 52% regularly sign petitions.

So how can organisations get the most of out of this optimistic millennial generation? To get the best out of them, employers need to develop a new set of management strategies:

  • Give feedback
    Millennials have a positive attitude to work but expect frequent feedback. Ensure you plan in plenty of time to give them coaching in tasks and feedback on their work – daily if necessary. By investing in this one-to-time you will encourage employee loyalty.
  • Provide encouragement
    The millennial generation have been told they can achieve anything by their parents. Encourage this “can do” attitude and try to avoid containing this ambition. By doing this you will encourage innovation in the workplace.
  • Use their tech skills
    European millennials are “highly comfortable” with technology and believe it has been influential in their lives, according to a survey by Telefonica. Millennials have more of a positive view of how technology is affecting their lives than any other generation.
  • Flexible working
    Millennials are used to busy lives and many have multiple social activities. Be aware of this and allow flexible working hours so that they can balance work and home life. Many millennials reject the traditional 9-5 and work better under flexible conditions.
  • Team working
    The influx of social media means that many millennials enjoy networking and sharing their success. Encourage this team attitude and train your millennials together in a group.
  • Provide a fun workplace
    Stats suggest that 60% of millennials change jobs within three years, according to a survey by research firm Millennial Branding. It is therefore imperative to ensure that the office is a fun place to be. Creating lunchtime seating areas or time out spots where people can have a break and chat to colleagues can make a big difference to staff morale.

By creating a workplace that can embrace the differing needs of the millennial generation, companies can be rewarded by having creative, innovative employees who really do want to have an impact on society and create a fairer and greener world.

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