Millennials are a large part of the workforce, and more are entering every year. But even though their share of the labor pool will only grow as Baby Boomers continue to retire, plenty of organizations still don’t understand what millennials want or how to manage them.
Jokes about lazy and entitled youth aside, many of the characteristics that exemplify the millennial generation overlap with their predecessors. There are 3 areas that are most important to this generation in the workplace, and they may sound familiar:
- The people: Millennials report that the people they work with are an incredibly important part of their experience. They place significant value on their team, boss, mentors, and friends in the workplace.
- The work itself: This generation wants their work to be interesting. Work/life balance is important to them — they don’t actually want to be plugged into work at all times. And, like everyone else, they seek and appreciate jobs and tasks that they consider to be meaningful.
- Opportunities: Millennials are interested in opportunities for development, promotion, and feedback. They want to advance, and they’d appreciate your help in getting there.
As shown in this brief video, millennials want their work to be interesting and meaningful:
Next, consider these managerial insights for working with millennials, based off the findings in the book What Millennials Want from Work, by Jennifer J. Deal:
This generation needs development, and their managers need to help to them access it. As stated before, millennials are eager for opportunities, and they would appreciate it if their managers would help them strategize about what they want in their careers and understand what they need to do in order to develop to that point.
They’d also like to feel like their managers genuinely appreciate them. Providing feedback about what they’re doing well and constructively framing how they could improve or be a better employee is useful and can motivate them. That’s a good practice for a manager with any of their direct reports, but millennials in particular value this level of feedback.
Millennials also want their manager to be a coach and mentor, providing individualized guidance and coaching rather than merely assigning tasks or doling out responsibilities. Like everyone, this generation doesn’t particularly like being micromanaged, and they seek opportunities to work independently. Millennials in your organizations still need direction and instructions for what’s expected of them, meaning that managers need to walk the line between making sure your reports understand what needs to be done and not telling them exactly what to do in painstaking detail.
This video gives a succinct summary of tips for managers:
With this cursory understanding of this generation’s 3 primary concerns and specific, practical advice about how to manage them, you can act quickly to be more effective.
And if you’d still benefit from more tools and detailed but digestible research insights, What Millennials Want from Work is designed to help people understand who this generation is, what they want, and what managers can do about it.