Managing millennials

In this week’s article we share some information about the young and old generation of employees and how to get maximum value from them. Millennial is a name given to a generation also known as the Generation Y, whose dates of birth are generally between 1982 and 2000. Millennials are that employee category that is growing in the workplace as baby boomers retire and Generation X grow older. Baby boomers and Generation X are those people born roughly from the late ’40s to the early ’60s and from the late ’60s to the late ’70s respectively. These brag over their strengths as organisational memory, optimism and willingness to work long hours.

Rapid technological advancements have had a huge impact on culture. Has this impact been greatest on a certain generational demographic cohort? Millennials are said to have a drastically different outlook on what they expect from their employers. Character wise they are known to be very educated, self-confident, tech-savvy, energetic and can multi task. These strengths can arguably make them more adaptable to change than the preceding generations. Organisations should take advantage of these strengths. When embarking on change it may pay off to include employees of this generation in such projects’ implementation structures.

Millennials’ electronic literacy may be used to advance business communication to both internal and external stakeholders. Millennials are also known to incorporate characteristics into new products that appeal to customers of their generation who now also form the largest population of customers.

They also prefer team work rather than working as individuals, so structuring your staff in a way that relies on inter-departmental synergies would see millennials thrive in organisations. Work-life balance and social interaction is of utmost importance to them. Therefore, they value organisations that provide information, facilities and programs for staff wellness.

There is a huge perception that millennials change how work gets done. According to Leigh Buchanan, their social mindset is a significant factor. Besides their capabilities in digital communication, they are primed to do well by doing good. They are renowned for their creativity and experience with search engines and wanting to work on new and tough problems. They are also known for wanting to be given feedback, so formulating a framework of feedback is imperative when managing millennials. One writer mentioned that there is no need for holding feedback to millennials, using few accolades like “good job” makes them blissful. Additionally because of their high levels of energy, they always want to know of their career opportunities and want to be involved in corporate social responsibility roles for visibility.

Having said the above, is there a substitute for time? JMJ Phillip Executive Search   said, ‘hiring a millennial with an MBA to replace the baby boomer with experience is misplaced. It does not   necessarily work that way! Have baby boomers that have been there and have done it in life to mentor and coach a young team.’ These tend to bring different perspectives to issues. When a bunch of people who have the same background get together, it can start to sound like an echo chamber as these see the world from the same lens and fresh ideas are unlikely.

Millenials are becoming the largest population in the workplace and as baby boomers retire, leadership roles can only be filled from the bottom. Millenials are more likely to push for diversity and inclusion than previous generations. Age should largely be considered an important element for diversity. Research has shown that organisations with a mix of generations in leadership roles have been able to weather challenges posed by incessant rapid changes in the operating environment. Though boomers are less likely to be well versed in the latest technology their inherent experience is unprecedented. Millennials are more likely to value and be loyal to companies with diverse management teams. This diversity takes all sorts of forms such as race, age, religion etc. They are also keen on seeking out diverse clients.

Millennials are said to be more flexible and have therefore been transforming the workplace for the last decade. They do not put much value in strict protocol and dress codes. Their focus is on the end results. Would it then help for organisations through leaders to consider flexi time, flexi place and less strict dress codes?

Leadership may invest in communication skills development for younger generations. The importance of effective communication in business may never be over-emphasised. This will further promote their interpersonal prominent characteristic in key areas such as active listening, body language, conflict resolution, negotiations and ultimately team building.    

The question is, will they preserve the fore mentioned characteristics. As they take up leadership roles they may adopt some of their predecessors’ characteristics to push organisations further. Inter-generational workforces were said to have a myriad of benefits and organisations that consider age as a detriment are missing out on the benefits of diversity. As leaders let as continue to mentor younger generations and always bear in mind that diversity hiring or promotions into leadership positions is more strategic.

Does your corporate culture accommodate or encourage Millennials to excel?

Emmanuel Jinda is the Managing Consultant of PROSERVE Consulting Group, a leading supplier of Professional Human Resources and Management services locally, regionally and internationally. He can be contacted at Tel: 263 773004143 or 263 4 772778 or visit our website at