Millennials, the generation of Americans born between 1980 and 1995, grew up around technology and feel very comfortable with it. They also tend to be excellent multi-taskers and more social than earlier generations. Unfortunately, older generations have also labeled millennials as lazy on the job and feeling entitled to things they haven’t earned. Like all generations, this is far from a universal truth. Millennials are as varied about their approach to work and what they want from their careers as anyone else.
Millennials Balance Their Work and Personal Lives Differently
Workers born in the 50s, 60s, and 70s accepted that getting ahead at work often meant great sacrifices in their personal life. As the youngest members of the millennial generation leave college and enter the workforce, it will become increasingly obvious that they’re unwilling to make the same sacrifices. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not willing to work hard. They will do so during their normal work hours and then expect to have evenings, weekends, and holidays free from work concerns.
Millennials typically don’t gauge their proficiency at work only by the hours they put into a project. From their perspective, they could have accomplished more in four hours than someone staying late and putting in a 10-hour day. When managing someone from this age group, consider the quality of work they perform over how long it took to complete.
This generation also values flexibility in their work schedule. It’s a myth that they want to work fewer hours when what they really want is the opportunity to make their work schedule fit their lives. Offering some freedom in start and end times as well as the chance to work at home on occasion will go a long way to produce loyalty among millennials.
Give Them Meaningful Work
One reason older generations misperceive millennials as entitled is that they don’t simply want to be a small cog in a giant wheel. They want to derive personal meaning and satisfaction from their work along with a paycheck. Millennials also want their work to make an impact on the company, the community, or even the world.
An ideal way to meet this need is to assign these employees personal projects or at least allow them to oversee a larger project. In a gig economy with new start-ups coming on the scene all the time, Millennials won’t stick around a company that doesn’t meet this deep need. While other generations of workers may choose a company for perks such as an on-site gym or free breakfast, millennials are more interested in a company that serves its community and that has proven itself ethical.
Establish Expectations for Communication
Children born in the 80s and early 90s grew up in an era of instant communication. They can barely remember a time without email, instant messaging, and texting. Unfortunately, this can come off as pushy to older workers. You can ease anxiety by providing them with some type of response as soon as possible and laying the groundwork for when they can expect a complete answer.
Lastly, regular and informal feedback is important to this age group. They value transparency and want to remain informed on whether they’re meeting the expectations of their position. This can only benefit the company and its customers, so don’t wait for annual formal reviews to provide the feedback they crave.