How To Work With Millennials: The Following 32 Strategies Can Help

Today you’re going to learn how to work with millennials.

Entitled, overstimulated, and lacking in work ethic are all stereotypical terms used to define Millennials. But what does the research really say about this generation and their work habits? While some of these accusations may reflect truth, a more accurate description of this generation may be entrepreneurial, ethically-minded and resourceful.

For the first time, four unique generations are represented in the modern-day workplace. It is important to have conversations regarding intergenerational dynamics, communication preferences, values and career aspirations among your team. Generation Y is the largest and most diverse generation to date and recruiting young talent is crucial to the longevity of your organization.

Encouraging growth, rethinking your patterns and building intergenerational community will help both retain current employees and attract Millennials. As you understand some trends and statistics about the Millennial Generation, you will be able to create training programs, adjust corporate culture and inspire innovation. Whether you are a seasoned professional or another Millennial trying to gain credibility in the workplace, it is essential that you learn to work well with Millennials.

How To Work With Millennials:

1. Harness their Creativity

You don’t need to have arcades or sleeping pods to get creative (although, working at Google wouldn’t be awful). From idea-generating field trips to Pixar’s “personal project days” where employees are given time to work on whatever they want to, there are lots of ways to encourage originality in the workplace. Studies suggest, based on their age and unique experiences, Millennials tend to demonstrate more outside-of-the-box thinking and are more prone to challenge norms which could lead to some great breakthroughs for your office.

2. Radiate Passion

If you are a leader, it’s your responsibility and privilege to invite your team into your vision. Bill Hybels, author of Courageous Leadership and founder of the Global Leadership Summit, says “It’s your job to keep your passion hot. Do whatever you have to do, read whatever you have to read, go wherever you have to go to stay fired up.” That kind of passion is contagious. As a leader, you get to set the tone of your company. As Michael Jordan said, “Earn your leadership every day”.

3. Provide Flexibility

Millennials value flexibility in work hours, communication and types of tasks. Working remotely is becoming more common across every generation and a majority of Millennials want to be able to set their own work hours. They also balance work and life more fluidly than Baby Boomers who prefer a clear division between personal and professional.

The use of technological tools has impacted communication and evolved the ability to multitask life and work projects simultaneously. Some studies suggest that the trend towards more accommodating work schedules is intergenerational. Allowing flexibility is attractive to prospective employees of all ages and may lead to higher job satisfaction. As long as the job is getting done well, a more relaxed work schedule could be worth considering.

4. Gain Perspective

Every person operates from a different worldview and these disparities seem more significant when multiplied across generational lines. Millennials have been criticized for not sharing the same opinions about time, company allegiance or work ethic as their older colleagues. However, they simply view and define workplace success differently. Learning to motivate and relate to the Millennials in your workplace may help provide long-term sustainability.

5. Educate Them

For a variety of reasons, “real life” looks different to Millennials than to older generations when they were similar ages. 1 out of 10 Millennials will buy a home before age 30. 1 in 5 are married and only 12% have children. They are getting married and starting families later than their predecessors.

This may be a reflection on soaring divorce rates or the rising average amount of student debt which make marriage and parenthood seem unappealing or impossible. There is also a greater focus, especially for women, on developing careers younger. Regardless, Millennials could use guidance from their elders in navigating the real world as they mature as employees, spouses, parents and adults in general.

6. Explore New Opportunities

Millennials work well on teams—take advantage of their willingness to jump in! Have you been thinking about creating a summer spirit week to boost company morale or starting a volleyball team to build community? Look to the Millennials to provide ideas and enthusiasm for these projects.

7. Recognize Work Ethic

Some studies have found that Generation Y has a higher work ethic than their older counterparts, some say Millennials are lazy and most agree that there is relatively no difference in work ethic between generations. The stereotype is that younger generations do not work as hard nor care as much about their work. However, the reality is that work ethic is affected by education level, life stage, work status (full or part-time), employee engagement, income level and marital status.

Regardless of generation bracket, those with low incomes or those who were married tended to report stronger work ethic. Perceived work ethic also depends on how work is defined. Baby Boomers are more process-oriented and value long hours while younger generations tend to adopt the “work smarter” mentality.

They are more focused on achieving great results and less interested in the process. Millennials may also be more satisfied as well as productive if they are able to work flexibly according to their schedule. If you emphasize your standards and expectations and make sure all deadlines are respected, Millennials should perform well.

8. Develop Corporate Responsibility Strategies

57% of Millennials volunteer regularly and 75% donate to nonprofits. They are not as selfish as presumed and are looking to work for organizations that are making a meaningful impact on their communities. Companies that develop a corporate social responsibility mission, match donations, focus on their values and encourage employees to serve will be very desirable.

9. Discuss the Dress Code

79% of Millennials believe jeans are acceptable work attire versus 60% of Boomers. Older generations tend to assign higher value to standard views of professionalism and Baby Boomers believe respecting rules and codes of conduct is very important. However, Millennials find fun and stimulation at work to be more significant.

One study found that the more compliant Baby Boomers had fewer terminations than Millennials which may be connected to views on obeying rules. Not all Millennials sport baggy t-shirts and canvas shoes to work. But if they do, it may be a good time to clarify your dress code.

SEE ALSO: How To Be More Organized At Work: 34 Organizing Tips That Will Work

10. Understand the Culture

Millennials are very connected. One average, a they will check their phone 43 times per day and this “always on” mentality can be useful. Task them with maintaining brand awareness, communicating with customers and building relationships with potential clients.

11. Cultivate Intergenerational Teamwork

Open communication is critical in a working environment. Adopting mutual support, understanding and dialogue among generations will build greater trust, deeper relationships and higher job satisfaction. Baby Boomers are especially concerned with building cohesion and positive social interactions in the work place. Similarly, Millennials thrive in team environments and tend to enjoy collaborative work.

12. Mentor Them

A study by Bellevue University found that both mentors and mentees have over a 20% higher retention rate, saving about $6.7 million in human resources costs. Creating mentorship opportunities can benefit everyone involved while building greater community and improved communication.

Statistics confirm that all generations tend to view strong relationships between supervisors and employees as an important indicator of overall work well-being and training satisfaction. But Millennials are specifically relying on this relationship to provide guidance.

13. Appreciate the Values-Driven Mentality

12% of Baby Boomers said meaningful work was important to them versus 30% of Millennials. Millennials tend to pursue personal development, fulfillment and the ability to make a meaningful contribution. Some studies have found that the desire for authenticity is especially important as Millennials want to work for a company that aligns with their personal values. Organizations that are value-based will be more attractive.

14. Get Curious

Ask good questions. Every Millennial has a unique personality, communication style, skill set and motivation. Before assuming what they want or need, ask them how they feel about their job, what tasks they don’t enjoy and if they believe their skills are being well utilized. Also have them reflect on their career aspirations, what they bring to the team and which work routines are most productive. Identifying and developing these strengths and habits will serve everyone involved.

15. Expand the Conversation

Most Millennials are hyper-engaged and highly value teamwork. Adopting a more open culture of communication and allowing all levels of employee input will help a Millennial find meaning in their work. Often, businesses are made up of silos and departments. But successful companies are recognizing the importance of developing interdepartmental (and intergenerational) conversations as this lead to greater community and innovation. Encouraging conversations may also prevent conflict and misunderstanding.

16. Create Structure

In 2017, the youngest Millennials are just entering adulthood. On top of all the normal “adult things” like transitioning away from microwave meals and applying for auto loans, they may be learning what is appropriate behavior in the office. You can help by clearly defining expectations. Studies show that Millennials want to be part of the decision-making process, desire clear expectations for success and value organized work settings.

This isn’t ground-breaking science and is pretty standard among generations. However, if these preferences are absent from the workplace, it may result in higher levels of dissatisfaction and turnover.

17. Identify the Multitaskers

Multitasking is the way of the 21st century and this style of work can create both opportunity and harm. This style of work is natural and prevalent for Millennials who may often be juggling multiple projects simultaneously over several different devices. Remind them to slow down and focus on quality.

18. Provide Feedback

Author and former presidential speechwriter, James Humes, said, “The art of communication is the language of leadership.” Millennials desire to engage deeply and a majority want constant feedback, so having an approachable relationship with coworkers and supervisors is critical. 80% want constant feedback from their managers. This expectation of immediate evaluation may be uncomfortable for older generations who see uninhibited communication as earned based on age and experience.

19. Challenge Perceptions about Authority

Unlike Baby Boomers who viewed managers as experts, Millennials have grown up with accessible information at their fingertips. They view managers as coaches and are used to open communication, collaborative working environments and egalitarian structures. Both Xers and Millennials are not impressed or intimated by titles and feel that respect from superiors needs to be earned.

They have been taught to ask questions and be critical of information. This comfort with authority can be interpreted as entitlement or disrespect; however, other scholars argue that generations do not have widely different views of “formal authority”. Depending on your corporate culture, you may need to address these perceptions of authority.

20. Value Inclusion

Self-identified as tolerant and democratic, Millennials desire equality in the workplace.9 They may struggle with traditional leadership structures and advocate for intergenerational inclusion regardless of rank. Millennials are the most diverse generation to date and, thanks to technology, they are the first “global generation”. Some scholars rate diversity as one of the top motivational factors in the Millennial’s job hunt.

21. Focus on Your Culture

Corporate culture is becoming a more prevalent discussion among high-performing businesses. As the concept of work is evolving, employees desire enjoyable work spaces. Millennials value workplace “play” more than previous generations and positively associate fun with happiness and high performance. How can your organization infuse fun into everyday work?

22. Reassess Career as Identity

A “career” is an important characterization for Baby Boomers who are known for working 50- 60 hour weeks. But for Millennials in general, work is less central to their identities and they have a greater sense of work-life balance.

Over the generations, the central importance of work is declining while the desire for more leisure time to pursue personal hobbies or relationships is increasing. Xers and Millennials do not believe job performance is tied to an individual’s worth. If a Millennial won the lottery, they would more likely quit their job while a Boomer would feel obligated to continue to work.

23. Acknowledge Humanity

Millennials are parents, pilots, college students, nomads, veterans, artists, unemployed, congressmen and billionaires. They are humans— women and men, introverts and extroverts, rich and poor— with hopes, fears and goals. Like their parents and grandparents, they are balancing work, life, and relationships. Always remember that regardless of age, everyone is valuable and worthy of respect.

24. Confront Issues Immediately

If there is dissention, miscommunication or negative vibes in the workplace, address the problem directly. Regardless of age, some employees are difficult to work with and thrive off of drama. Some may even have negative intentions. If a Millennial is truly entitled, defiant or disloyal, take immediate action before the situation gets exponentially worse. A negative team member can quickly lead to destroyed morale, the loss of valuable staff and decreased productivity. Confrontation should be kind, private, direct and clear.

25. Inspire Excellence

Millennials are familiar with captivating content and desire influential leaders to infuse passion into their daily work. These young creatives are ready to be inspired! You could add 5 minutes to your team meetings dedicated to sharing inspiration that will drive healthy perspectives, refocus on your mission and encourage excellence.

SEE ALSO: 13 Tricky Interview Questions And How To Answer Them Perfectly

26. Develop the Entrepreneurial Spirit

59% of Millennials want to or already are starting their own business. They value meaningful tasks with intrinsic rewards and are willing to work in unconventional ways. This could be a great opportunity to invite creative ideas, generate innovative projects and allow Millennials the chance to develop leadership skills while engaging their entrepreneurial inclinations.

27. Consider the Similarities

While there are many generational differences, there are also a lot of similarities that help form a mutual foundation of understanding. Studies indicate that all generations value job stability, competitive compensation, challenging work and good working conditions. Employees want to make a different at their company. Like other generations, most Millennials value strong work ethic, have career goals and are juggling everyday life challenges. Finding and emphasizing common ground could help bridge relational gaps.

28. Envision the Potential

Generation Y is more familiar with group projects and open office spaces rather than the traditional beige-walled “cubical land”. Be open to trying new things in regards to your space. Young companies are opting for the less-traditional office layout and are moving towards more collaborative, creative spaces.

29. Foster Meaningful Relationships

Transitioning from a world of constant exposure to technology and social media to the navigation of daily work interactions may induce some culture shock. However, Millennials desire authentic relationships and they are just as likely as older coworkers to value traditional in-person communication.

In general, physical face-to-face forms of communication are declining with increased technological options across every generation. So it is even more important to focus on building work relationships and encouraging employee engagement to help acquire and retain valuable employees.

30. Instill Patience

In a world of Google, Siri and Amazon Prime, practicing patience is an art. Millennials have been trained to expect instant gratification while older generations value rank and have earned their promotions. Like every previous generation, the new kids on the block need to be taught patience and work ethic. Research suggests that mastering a job can take up to 10,000 hours or 5 years so patience is really is key.

31. Set the Example

Do you feel like your coworkers or employees are acting entitled? Are they inseparable from their phones? Show them a different way. Sending memos or posting rules next to the refrigerator will not be as effective as personally modeling appropriate behaviors.

32. Allow Mistakes

Design an inspiring environment which encourages curiosity. Younger employees need experience, mentorship and the opportunity to contribute. If an environment is too critical and uncomfortable, Millennials may seek work elsewhere.

Thank you for reading this article about how to work with millennials and I really hope that you take action my advice. I wish you good luck and I hope its contents have been a good help to you.

Przemkas Mosky
Przemkas Mosky started Perfect 24 Hours in 2017. He is a Personal Productivity Specialist, blogger and entrepreneur. He also works as a coach assisting people to increase their motivation, social skills or leadership abilities. Read more here