November 2, 2018   |   Diversity and Inclusion, Human Resources, Leadership, Teaming
Millennials in the Workplace: Seven Tips for Successful Intergenerational Teams

By Dana Harrington, WorkTrain

There is a demographic shift happening, at all types of workplaces and at all levels of employment. With the Baby Boomer retirement wave imminent--and already happening-- it is imperative that companies spend time strategizing how to capitalize on the opportunity that Millennials in the workplace represent. And as one-third of the world’s current population, and nearly 50% of the workforce, they are changing the way companies must motivate, capitalize on, and reward their teams.

A Tale as Old as Time

It is not a new phenomenon to have established generations in the workforce see incoming generations as disruptive, resulting in negative biases toward younger workers. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers can surely remember back to comments and backlash they faced when they were embarking on their careers. What do you wish your bosses and mentors would have done to welcome your gifts? 
Yet in my work as a recruiter presenting top talent, it was an all-too-common occurrence to see a hiring manager flinch and express skepticism about a Millennial being a good “fit” for their team. And I am often struck by the negative tone of many articles written about Millennials in the workplace. (For a quick and thoughtful take on the topic, try renowned author Simon Sinek’s fifteen-minute YouTube interview.)

Making the most of Millennials in the workplace

In reality, Millennials bring a host of excellent and unique qualities to a workplace. It’s important to focus energy on helpful thoughts, attitudes, and actions that will propel workforce cultures forward, with an eye toward integrating and blending the contributions of Millennials rather than expecting them to fit the status quo. 
Here are seven tips to maximize the opportunities present in intergenerational work teams:

Make them relevant (Simon Sinek spoke of it in terms of “purpose”):
Based on my queries of up-and-coming Millennial professionals from a wide variety of professions, they spoke—without exception—about a desire to be relevant in their fields and within their teams. They make intentional choices around education and career fields. 
Security and well-being are attached to the ability to stay relevant, so pay close attention to ensuring young workers are able to stay up on trends in their fields and access ample professional networking and development opportunities. Being very comfortable with technology, these employees will make the most of cost-efficient e-learning scenarios. Bonus: they readily share information gleaned with colleagues.
Path for advancement is important. Replacing Millennial workers who are readily recruited by companies that get their value is costly. Make sure that you pay your talent competitive wages and that you do not take them for granted. 
Recognize that technological savvy equals efficiency:
Though obvious, it is a Millennial strength that cannot be overstated. Keeping this in mind, their managers would be well-served to reward their efficiency with respect of time management. Be clear about goals and expectations and trust Millennials to manage their time, allowing them to set examples for other workers to emulate. 
Support process orientation:
Millennials like to understand “Why?” Perhaps, all employees work better when they have good information around organizational whys, but this tends to be a huge motivation to Millennials. They often take that information and develop and implement processes that challenge the “way things have always been done.” Millennials feel included and respected when their colleagues embrace innovation. When there are imperatives that do not support new procedures, be clear and respectful when communicating why so they don’t fill in the information void with wildly wrong conclusions. 
Though Millennials are stereotyped as impatient, because of the instant-access environment they grew up in, good leaders can guide their Millennial talent to develop a sense of professional fulfillment and job satisfaction related to long-term efforts, and the strong relationships they give rise to.
They will seek mentoring and are often great mentors in their own right.
Millennials embrace learning opportunities around diversity and inclusion, and they expect civility in the workplace. They do not appreciate hierarchy or tolerate bullying. 
Respect boundaries:
Millennials tend to have good work and personal boundaries. Hiring managers may get alarmed when Millennials ask about the culture of work-life balance in job interviews, but the question is their strategic way of peering in to see if the organization respects these values.
Millennials also display intention in their personal lives: they choose life partners later in life and wait longer to become parents. Much of their young adult focus is directed toward their careers and employers can benefit from such intention. 
Shift reward focus:
Asked what they would like for recognition or reward, a Millennial is likely to say, “time off!” They are much more for time off and monetary awards than the plaques and banquets of old.

Develop your teams:
There is a lot of great material on generational differences, available for those that want to go further into that topic. Contact WorkTrain today to design a training or workshop that will explore generational differences, bolster intergenerational teams, and leverage strengths across age spans.

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