6 tips to better manage millennials in the workplace


Millennials prefer working when given detailed instructions, but would prefer to have a more flexible working arrangement than be micromanaged. (Photo: iStock)

When it comes to working life, it is clear that millennials are very different to the generations that came before them.

In order to support and manage this type of talent, it is essential to address the generational differences and understand their unique motivations and behavior in the workplace.

Related: Millennials are not the enemy. Here’s why.

Millennials share a common goal: they want to make a difference at work. Given the significant motivational differences with this generation, current leaders must consider a new approach to managing these employees. Work forms a strong part of millennial’s identity, and this needs to be accounted for in the way they are managed.

1. Focus on advancement

Millennials consider promotion and career advancement as fundamental to their existence in the workplace, as well as the opportunity to develop their skill set. Managers need to focus not just on what these employees can bring to the business, but how the organization can support millennials in the next stages of their professional growth.

Related: 10 reasons why an insurance career is great for millennials

This generation is not only interested in their own advancement, but the idea that everything is progressing forward collectively. Tasking millennials with creating innovative solutions to existing processes and problems will increase job satisfaction, whilst contributing to the wider growth and progress of the organization.

Creating a progression structure that clearly defines in black and white what is required to progress eliminates discretion, bias, ambiguity and gives millennials clear targets to aim for. Furthermore, they don’t want to wait years for there next promotion. In our instant gratification world of social media, instant communication and smartphones this is reflected in millennials getting frustrated easily if they don’t see the roadmap to their next promotion.


Millennial employee receiving manager feedback

Regular meetings and feedback are likely to boost performance, creating a more productive, and motivated team. (Photo: Fotolia)

2. Encourage feedback from management

Millennials like to know where they stand, and how they are performing in relation to their goals and aspirations. Whether it is constructive criticism or just praise for a job well done, this group appreciates feedback.

Related: 12 ways to engage millennials in insurance and finance careers

A continued dialogue and feedback on their work is critical to their self-development. The mentality behind this is similar to that of advancement — millennials like to feel that they are always moving forward.

To a millennial, a job is not just about money. They want to know that they are learning and developing throughout their career. Regular meetings and feedback are likely to boost performance, creating a more productive, and motivated team. We live the age of constant and instant communication, therefore our generation raised in this age craves this communication constantly.


Diverse millennial employees

Diversity is not only important for attracting millennial talent, but also retaining them and keeping them engaged. (Photo: SnappyStock)

3. Strive for diversity

Millennial talent around the world has identified diversity and inclusion as important when it comes to choosing a workplace. It is vital for organizations to build diversity into their employer value propositions, and communicate it to potential candidates with their employer branded marketing. Businesses should look to go a step further, by integrating it into the foundations of the business.

Related: Keys to finding & keeping the right employees

Diversity is not only important for attracting millennial talent, but also retaining them and keeping them engaged with the organization. Alongside this diversity of talent creates diversity of ideas and generally this a great thing for any organization.


employee working at table in his kitchen

Millennials value the potential to work from home or even from a coffee shop. (Photo: iStock)

4. Promote flexible environments

One of the most central priorities for millennial workers is flexibility. This generation prefers work when given detailed instructions and set KPIs, but would prefer to have a more flexible working arrangement to being micromanaged.

Flexible working environments are also attractive to millennials in order to maintain a focus on work life balance. Millennials value the potential to work from home or even from a coffee shop — with the emphasis on quality of work, rather than the location where the work is performed. Millennials value the ability to see and do new things, and this being flexible in the work setting.

Related: Who says insurance is boring? Not millennials


millennial employees

Millenials want to be heard and know that their ideas are valued so a truly democratic leadership style tends to work better than a more traditional autocratic style. (Photo: Fotolia)

5. Empower millennials for leadership roles

Millennials value ‘soft’ principles when it comes to leadership. These include areas such as wellbeing and employee development. Qualities such as the ability to inspire, vision, the ability to make decisions, and passion were all earmarked as vital characteristics for a strong leader.

Related: 4 keys to retaining a multigenerational workforce

The majority of millennials want to be transformational leaders who disrupt the status quo and inspire their team. The nature of leadership is evolving, and the more traditional model of hierarchy has fallen in popularity. Collaboration and innovation are key priorities. Millenials want to be heard and know that their ideas are valued so a truly democratic leadership style tends to work better than a more traditional autocratic style.


Millennial employees that are clapping

Compensation is important to millennials but it’s likely lower down the pecking order than other factors. (Photo: Fotolia)

6. Don’t overlook compensation

A recent study indicated that millennials value compensation in their top three most important factors in choosing their career, which is somewhat conflicting considering that work/life balance was also in the top three. There is a common misconception that millennials are “lazy” or “want more for doing less.”

Related: Does working in insurance pay?

While there may be some basis for this misconception there are some incredibly hard working people out there and this generation may be regarded as arguably one of the more entrepreneurially driven groups of the last 50 years. Compensation is important to millennials but in our view, it is lower down the pecking order than other factors mentioned above.

Different take on management

Millennials have a different take on management, both how they prefer to be managed, and the types of manager they aspire to be. The central factor lies in their inclination towards leadership, rather than traditional management, and they desire to be inspired both by their managers and their team around them.

As they now make up such a large proportion of the workforce, it’s likely that these changes will create long-term evolution to the nature of leadership in the workplace. As the traditional definition of leadership begins to change, it’s important for organizations to keep an open mind about the changing relationship between management and employees, and adapt processes to make way for these shifting priorities.

Related: Insurance agents are retiring. Can millennials fill the void?

Oliver Cooke (oliver.cooke@phaidoninternational.com) is executive director and head North America at Selby Jennings, part of the global Phaden international brand specializing in financial recruiting.



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