Millennials—those born between 1983 and 2000—represent one-quarter of the entire U.S. population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2016, the Pew Research Center reported that millennial workers became the largest segment, by age, in the workplace. And, by 2030, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that millennial employees will make up 75 percent of the workforce.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation collated the copious research about the millennial generation and detailed the often contradictory findings in its 2012 “The Millennial Generation Research Review” report. Typically, millennial’s are generalized as a social-minded generation, but two main traits are steadfast:
- Millennial’s value a work/life balance and seek meaning and personal fulfillment in their work; they aren’t toiling away just for a paycheck.
- Millennial’s are more technologically savvy than previous generations. Even the older members of this generation were introduced to computers in elementary school. They have always lived in a world connected by technology.
Ways to Maximize the Potential of Millennial’s in the Workplace
It is important to bridge the disconnects between the generations in the workplace to allow millennial workers to thrive in their role—and to retain them. A 2019 Deloitte survey shows that more than 40 percent of the millennial workforce expect to leave their jobs within two years.
Here are some insights that may be useful:
- Flexibility: Offer millennial’s greater autonomy over their work. To the extent possible, allow millennials to choose the hours they work and the location where they perform that work.
- Collaboration: Millennials have grown up in an environment that emphasizes collaboration, both online and in person. Similarly, they expect to see opportunities for teamwork in the office. Consider whether your office layout fosters employees’ meeting, conversing, and working together; it may make sense to create multiple common areas instead of offering a single breakroom.
- Continuous learning: Millennial workers want to keep learning throughout their careers. To help them maintain interest in their role, offer them regular training and development opportunities.
- Reverse mentoring: Be on the lookout for age bias. For example, older workers may prejudge millennials based on their perceptions of how they work, and millennials should be patient with older workers who may resent flexible working arrangements. One way to bridge the generational gap is to pair older and younger workers in a mentorship. Younger workers may be able to learn from more senior leaders about how to climb the corporate ladder. Alternatively, in a reverse mentorship, younger workers might teach their older counterparts about new technology.
- Frequent feedback: Millennials generally prefer regular check-ins on how they’re doing; an annual performance review won’t meet their expectations. The more real-time feedback they receive, particularly if it highlights their strengths and contributions as well as their opportunities to improve, the more you’ll encourage them to grow.
The bottom line is that employers must take the time required to understand the needs of all the generations in the workforce as well as the differences between the generations—and to motivate each group to work toward understanding the other.
For more tips on how to improve your workplace and its culture and compliance, check out the Poster Compliance Center blog.