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How ‘millennial ready’ are you?

Ten top tips for successfully leading and managing millennials in the workplace.

By Georgia Rothon

Georgia is Oakwood's Associate Learning Consultant and works in our Associate Team
More from Georgia >>

Millennials, Generation Y, Generation WE, Boomerang Generation, Digital Natives – whatever you want to call them, these are all terms that describe those individuals born between 1980 – 2000. Those individuals that, according to research commissioned by PWC will form 50% of the global workforce by 2020 – it’s clear then that the workforce is changing! 

In response to this ever-changing landscape the importance of an organisation’s ability to adapt to this change and new generation has never been so strong. Millennials are reshaping the workplace and organisations must recognise this and flex their culture and ways of working to accommodate this new generation of worker.

Millennials are positive, confident, and ready to take on the world.  They seek leadership structure and challenge. They are multi-taskers, tech savvy, the most connected generation ever and they really like recognition. They are also flexible, want a good work-life balance, like to collaborate, transparency is key and career advancement is very important to them. Unless they are truly valued and respected they are unlikely to stick around!

So, with this backdrop what actions can we take in our organisations to lead and manage this generation of workers effectively for long-term business success?  

Here are my 10 top tips:

1. Do you get me?  – Take time to really understand this generation.  Use metrics and HR analytics to really get underneath the needs, wants and desires of this generation (and other generations).  What do they want, what drives and motivates them. By understanding the needs of each generation will help to clarify their differences and tensions and enable businesses to respond to these more accurately.

2. Provide structure – Millennials love structure.  Reports should have due dates, meetings should have agendas and minutes.  Goals and objectives are clearly set and progress is assessed against them.  With this comes a high level of autonomy too which leads us nicely on to tip number three.

3. Set them free! – Let them get on with the job in hand.  Measure and review progress using the structure above.  How they do it is up to them so long as they deliver on time and to standard.  Empower them.  Work-life balance is key to this generation and the lines between work and play are most definitely blurred so allowing them to drive this balance is key.  Millennials are multi-taskers and multiple tasks don’t faze them.  This is their way of life.  They are used to using their computer and talking/messaging their friends at the same time.

4. Listen Up! –.They have ideas and opinions and don’t take kindly to having their thoughts ignored. They seek ever-changing tasks within their work.  ‘What’s happening next’ is their mantra. Don’t bore them, ignore them or trivialise their contribution.

5. Help them to learn and grow - Managers need to clearly understand their personal and professional goals.  Put them on special rotational assignments to give them the sense that they are learning and moving forward.  Challenge them with coming up with new ways of doing things and continuously improving.  Millennials have a strong desire to work globally – give them that opportunity if you can.

6. Get the ‘the deal’ right – Think creatively about reward strategies and what motivates a millennial. A great pension scheme is not going to cut it.  A move from cash bonuses to other things is worth considering for this generation.  It’s not always about the money either. The biggest draw for millennials is career progression so having the right development opportunities available and a clear career path is what really matters to them.

7. Provide regular feedback – they want and they value regular feedback.  They want this ‘on the spot’. Regular feedback is good for millennials.  Give honest feedback in real time. Recognition is highly valuable to them so give recognition where it is due.  They love it and get motivated by it.

8. Encourage learning and fast career progression – millennials want to experience as much learning as possible. Consider allocating projects to talented millennials that fall outside of their day job. Let them connect, collaborate, innovate and build their networks – they love that!  The ‘old’ style of career advancement doesn’t work for this generation.  They want to advance quickly. If you have a millennial with great potential then let them advance, why not? The risk is that, if you don’t, they will leave the organisation. 

9. Tech Savvy Pros – The electronic capabilities of these employees are amazing. Make the most of their technical ability and literacy and take advantage of their computer, cell phone and electronic literacy skills.

10. Expect millennials to go – It is inevitable that the rate of turnover among millennials will be higher than other generations.  Retaining them is key but they are the most ‘mobile’ generation of all time.  


Oh, and there is an 11th tip …..

11. Provide a fun and employee centred workplace – This generation want to enjoy their workplace and make new friends. Worry if your millennials are not laughing, going out with workplace friends for lunch and helping plan the next company event or committee.  

Millennials are talented, dynamic and driven. The good ones are hard to find and even harder to keep. Organisations and their leaders must change and adapt to this generations’ needs, wants and desires if they want to continue to be successful.  Before long this generation will form the majority of the workforce and will look at joining employers that are true to their word and act on their promises. This generation is most certainly reshaping the workplace.  

How ‘millennial ready’ are you?

Contact Oakwood to discuss how our CIPD qualification programmes can help your organisation.  We are also very happy to discuss consultancy or bespoke programmes to help your HR, L&D and senior management teams.


You can email us at: info@oakwooddubai.ae or call us on +971 4 359 9020.


Ref: Milllennials at Work: Reshaping the Workplace, PWC research.

Image @ www.incarabia.com