How to integrate millennials into the workplace


In many organisations there is some kind of divide between older employees and the younger generation. But with a little understanding, these issues are easily overcome.

There is much talk about the ‘generation gap’, and in today’s workplace it is typified by Generation X, who were born between 1960 and 1980; and the Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000.

So, Generation X today comprises people aged 38 to 58, with the Millennials making up the cohort of younger adults. Generation X remembers life before the internet, while for Millennials, technology has played a major role since early childhood.

While generalisations can often be dangerous, there is certainly some wisdom in understanding what drives and motivates the younger workforce, to drive motivation and employee retention. Here are some key considerations:

  1.  Millennials want to be heard. Social media has been around for more than a decade and people are used to being able to share their thoughts with the world. Tapping into the views and ideas of the Millennial workforce will drive new innovation – make sure your organisation has an open culture where people at all levels can speak up.

  2. Effective technology. Having grown up with fast-evolving technology, Millennials are frustrated by slow and outdated systems and software. Challenge your IT team to keep company equipment up to date.

  3. Informal workplaces. Gone are the days of director offices and restrictive dress codes. Millennials want to dress down at work and are intimidated by obvious hierarchy.

  4. Provide flexibility. Millennials respond well to autonomy and prefer to be measured on their delivery than on the hours they work. Being able to work remotely and with flexible hours is a big boost to Millennial productivity.

  5. Ensure regular feedback. Younger people appreciate straight talking and clear direction. Make sure that there is a rigorous performance assessment framework in place and that managers deliver on it.  

  6. Career development. Millennials and Generation X are not so different in their aspirations. Both are seeking advancement, respect and financial reward. To motivate and retain all employees, help them see the potential career options at every level and empower them to seek the development they need to achieve their goals.

  7. Social opportunities. Many members of Generation X will have enjoyed lavish corporate events and entertainment in the days before the financial crash of 2007, at which point many organisations tightened their belts. While few companies today dedicate the same levels of budget towards entertainment, there are many advantages to enabling social interaction between employees. Simple elements encouraging creating social and sporting clubs, or leading volunteering events in the local community can be a boost to teambuilding and staff retention.

  8. Mentoring. One of the best ways to ensure that the two generations understand each other better is to bring them together. Mentoring is of great benefit to the mentee, but the mentor stands to gain useful insights into the younger colleague’s mindset, priorities and thoughts about how the company could evolve in the future.

Studies suggest that age has little bearing on productivity. The most important factor in creating a productive workforce is happiness. Ensure that your people – whatever their age – are content at work, and they should both deliver on your goals and stay with you in the long term.

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