Generation Y not? Managing millennials in the workplace

By Robert Half on 2 February 2015

Spoilt. Entitled. Challenging to manage. These are just some of the traits attributed to Generation Y – the millennials. But what do you really know about them?

Generally defined as those born between the 1980s and the early 2000s, it seems that millennials are everywhere these days. Challenging traditional working styles and causing their Gen X and Baby Boomer superiors to scratch their heads over how best to manage them without extra work stress. But all is not lost. Here are some tips for managing Generation Y more effectively.

Keep an open mind

You may have noticed your Generation Y team members typically have no qualms about being in a job for just one year before seeking greener pastures. So seeing the resume of a potential millennial hire and having preconceived notions colour your judgement does no one any good. It’s easy to dismiss someone like that as a job-hopper, but if the qualifications and skill-set fit the position, give it a shot and hear him or her out.

During the interview, speak your mind and ask your Gen Y interviewee about current issues that your office might be facing. You might be pleasantly surprised by the answers. Setting aside your assumptions may help you add a valuable employee to your team.

Guide Millennials with patience

It’s likely that freshly-graduated Generation Y hires have unrealistic expectations of their career progress. First, consider where this sense of entitlement stems from. Growing up in a world of real-time communications and overnight IT success stories may have instilled an unrealistic expectation of how life works. In the Generation Y world, everything happens now.

Your Generation Y people tend to be vocal and opinionated. So instead of meeting each other in a painful head-on collision, try to show them the value of their work. They often stay in a job because they love what they do, and this energy can have a valuable ripple effect across your entire team. Part of managing the millennial generation involves teaching them that progress takes time, and patience pays off.

Be flexible

Managing the millennials in the workplace doesn’t have to involve bending over backwards to accommodate their needs. For Generation Y, flexibility is in and rigidity is out. Millennials welcome the concept of working from home, are keen to love what they do and eschew tradition, including organisational hierarchy.

Most millennials seek job satisfaction above all else and believe in being passionate about their role. They don’t understand why one should spend 12 hours in the office when five hours spent working at home can achieve the same outcome. And let’s face it, they may be onto something. Research has indeed shown that when you love what you do, workplace stress is reduced; we work more efficiently, and are happier and more creative in the workplace.

To create a harmonious environment where multiple generations work as a team, be prepared to embrace the change your Generation Y employees bring. Engaging their unique talents and skill-sets in the right way will only benefit you and allow the millennials you manage to love what they do.

Create a place for employees to love what they do.

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