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Managing Millennials

As employers are replacing the baby boomers with the millennials, several management issues arise. Millennials—the people born between 1977 and 1997—account for nearly half the employees in the world. How can leaders better understand, motivate, and utilize their younger employees? Commentators have offered many tips for keeping workplaces productive, the most common tips including the following:

  • Millennials tend to be less motivated by money than keeping personal time. Technology shapes much of today's work schedule, and tech-savvy young workers want the ability to work from outside the office and manage their own schedules. Since vacation time and flexible work days are regarded just as highly as salary and benefits, employers may consider offering flexible schedules, telecommuting, or metrics that are based more on tasks completed versus hours worked in the office in order to attract and retain millennials.
  • Revitalize mentoring programs. Be genuine in the approach to the development of young talent and very honest about expectations at the outset. Millennials will benefit from learning more than just the location of the breakroom and basic orientation on the company’s computer system. Employers should be prepared to explain what it will take to succeed, not just in basic performance, but also in fitting into the workplace culture. This may help avoid the new hire from behaving as though she’s ready to be elevated to management by her second week.  
  • Provide opportunities for meaningful work. Young people are more likely to stay somewhere where they feel their job serves a purpose and is appreciated. Millennials value working in group settings to achieve goals, share ideas and build an office community, so setting up task forces and committees is one way to engage younger workers and benefit from their ideas and perspectives.
  • Help the “me generation” understand it is usually not enough to be smart. The reality is most employers exist because of its clients or customers. Millennials need to be taught that they may have to modify their own behaviors to best service those clients or customers. Employers need to reward younger workers for their successes – even just notice and praise can go a long way towards building loyalty and better work ethics. 

There is an entertaining pair of videos on YouTube summarizing these perspectives and are worth a watch:


About the Author

Holly J. Newman is an attorney practicing out of our Minneapolis office. She is a member of the Labor & Employment Relations, Litigation, Construction and Intellectual Property practice groups. Contact Holly by email or by phone at 612-305-1450.

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