Skip to the article content

Managing millennials: What employers need to know

Millennials will redefine the workforce in a digital economy. So what do potential employers need to know about managing them?

The impact of millennials on organisations and the ability of companies to harness a changing workforce, are predicted to be one of the largest factors to define future corporate success.

Millennials represent people born between 1980 and 2000, currently 2.5 billion people worldwide.

As of 2015, millennials as a cohort have become the largest generational component of the workforce, at roughly 34 per cent, just in front of Generation X.

As more baby boomers retire, millennials are expected to make up 50 per cent of the workforce by 2020, and 75 per cent by 2030.

Millennials – and in particular those in the latter part of the age bracket who are just now entering the workforce – bring with them a new approach to work, founded in a digital environment which champions connectivity, immediacy, speed, growth, and an ever-forward outlook.

A generational shift

Organisations cannot expect millennials to assimilate into the existing culture of companies where they will soon be the majority.

Instead, organisations will need to adapt to retain the best talent from the millennial generation, and ensure future growth.

The millennial generation will redefine how organisations manage their workforce.  With high education, ability for fast paced work, and an innate understanding of an increasing technology-focused corporate landscape, millennials can make rapid and impressive contributions to the workplace.

In return, they look for a new suite of talent management priorities, which companies need to be ready to provide.

Development is most important. These days there are many paths to success, and most don’t necessarily involve a slow climb up a corporate ladder.

It’s common to hear about 25 year old entrepreneur CEOs running start-ups, and we are all want opportunities to advance quickly. Millennials look for a more personalised development program, which includes recognition of their skillsets and contributions, and an understanding of where they are headed.

Millennials who have exposure to strong leadership and professional development are roughly 25 per cent more likely to stay in a role for over five years, rather than leave in the next two.

Motivating millenials

Millennials want to be challenged and stimulated in ways similar to how they personal lives are lived.

Just as you might be used to texting, while talking to a friend, while you both watch a movie – variety is important in the workplace.

This includes the ability to shape elements of your role, and empower you to make those decisions yourself.  After salary and benefits, Accenture found that challenging and interesting work was the most important factor for 2015 graduates entering the workforce.

Look for ways to speed up development for high potential employees and those able to take on more. Integral components can include project exposure, stretch assignments, and secondments.

It’s also important that millennials understand how their contribution fits into the bigger picture. This is easily facilitated by companies which embrace data driven decision making.

Millennials feel comfortable questioning decisions and want to know the ‘why’ before putting their efforts behind a task.

They understand and appreciate data, and therefore intuition and gut feelings no longer cut it in a world driven by analytics-backed strategy. They also believe that business success goes hand in hand with employee satisfaction, ethics and integrity.

Being able to provide an integration of technology into work, and a connected workplace, is vital. In their personal lives, communication for millennials is almost all digital.

When asked, 68 per cent of 18-29 year olds sent or read a text message the day before, and 38 per cent communicated via social media, compared to 26 per cent of 50-64 year olds who texted, and 17 per cent on social media.

Workplace communication should reflect this generational shift as much as possible. Data-driven and digitally-focused organisations will increasingly become the norm in the future, and those which don’t will suffer from more than a lack of workforce talent.

If they’re unhappy or can see a better opportunity elsewhere, your workforce won’t sit on their hands and wait – they’ll leave.

Rules of engagement

Sixty-six per cent of millennials expect to have left their job by 2020. Therefore engagement and continual development is key. This encompasses a range of areas which will challenge and shape future workplaces.

A breakdown of traditional hierarchies and barriers becomes important, including exposure to senior executives, and more transparent communication.

So too does flexibility, the technological ability to work where and when you feel most productive, and the maturity to be measured by your deliverables rather than the time you spend sitting at your desk.

These are not only valuable to attract and retain talent, but are all fast becoming hallmarks of a modern organisation embracing technology and aligning itself to how companies will operate in the future.

If you are a proud millennial who is about to graduate university, or has graduated in the last two years, and want to start your career in an organisation where you can make a real difference? Join the nbn Graduate Program!

Applications for 2017 are open now, until Friday May 13 2016.
Click here to find out more.

Find out more about the nbn Graduate Program in the video below

You might also like