Managing the millennials

A recent global survey highlighted some intriguing facts and issues for employers when hiring, and managing employees born between 1980 and 2000. This demographic, known as the ‘millennial’ generation, is showing they have clear preferences for how they want to be employed and managed.

Having grown up in the ‘good times’ between recessions, the millennial worker has little loyalty toward an employer and this contrasts markedly with the Baby Boomer generation and to a lesser degree with Generation X. The millennial worker will have a preference to work for more than five employers over their career and it is expected that this number of employers will only increase as current economic difficulties ease and more job opportunities become available.

Recent generations have placed increasingly greater significance on a good education, so it is not surprising that employers who provide opportunities for greater personal learning and development will fare better in attracting and retaining a millennial worker.

As you might expect, the millennial generation is the most technologically savvy generation and so they are interested in working for employers who also share their love of technology. The challenge for any employer in this respect is that a millennial worker will want to communicate using technology and this is likely to cause friction with the Baby Boomers and Generation X who generally prefer to meet for discussion.

This new generation of workers also has a strong appreciation for lifestyle, and the opportunity to relax away from work will be even more appreciated under the current economic difficulties.

Career progression within a reputable business is also high on their list of employment motivators and is surprisingly slightly more important to them than a competitive salary.

We also know that in a global economy, the opportunity to travel and work will be a strong attraction to working for an employer¬† who offers this.¬† This preference will continue to be a drain on New Zealand’s workforce.

Finally, the ‘millennials’ will value the opportunity to be mentored by the older generation so the challenge of managing the generation gap will continue to exist as it has done for previous generations.

In summary, here are some key points to assist employers with managing the generation newest to the workforce:

  • Ensure your policies and practices enable you to communicate effectively
  • Assess the degree of flexibility that you are able to give employees in a job and align the practices of the business to match. The more flexibility you are able to offer, the better
  • Develop career plans that interest these employees in your business and focus on developing the skills the business needs in the future
  • Consider development opportunities that extend the skills of these workers; what are sometimes referred to as ‘stretch’ assignments are where individuals learn the most
  • Review the range of employment benefits on offer to attract and retain these employees
  • Provide mentoring opportunities to share the experience of older generations.

Published Summer 2012.

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