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How Millennials Work: Why the Key to Managing Millennials is Flexibility



Millennials currently make up over one third of the North American workforce. By 2025, 75% of the global labor market will be millennials.

This new generation of workers brings with it a shift in the nature of the workplace and in particular, how the workplace is managed.

Millennial employees are not all that different from boomers.

A recent article in Forbes, How Millennials Work Differently From Everyone Else, shows that the two generations are really not all that different.

Both value good communication, hard work, and advancement. Millennials just have a different approach and understanding of these values.

Millennials are more flexible about communication, productivity, feedback, and work structure. To manage them, it is important to understand how to work with their desire for flexibility, not against it.

Effective communication doesn’t have to be face-to-face.

Yes face-time is important, but many millennials find FaceTime to be just as good. A 2013 study of Gen Y executives conducted by Cisco found that 87% of them believe video has a significantly positive impact on an organization.

Millennials also tend to use texting, and email as a major part of daily workplace interactions.

A more flexible approach to communication is an important part of keeping younger team members engaged, and on the same page.

Effective feedback doesn’t have to be structured.

The annual performance review is antiquated. Millennials want your feedback, they thrive on it, but they want that feedback in real time.

Instead of pre-scheduled formal reviews, provide constructive criticism in the moment. This will encourage constant learning. Also make sure to provide positive feedback to encourage employees to keep working hard.

When or where work gets done doesn’t matter, so long as it gets done.

Millennials place significantly less emphasis on structured working arrangements and hours than boomers.

But the lack of structure does not seem to affect their productivity. The opposite may actually be true.

According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace, remote workers log more hours and are more engaged.

Offering flexible work options is a way to improve retention and employee satisfaction. It is also a powerful recruiting tool for attracting Gen Y candidates.

Being rigid with technology is a no win situation.

Millennials are going to use Facebook at work. And Twitter. And Instagram.

So you should ban social media at work right?

Not necessarily.

Taking short breaks to check out social media throughout the day can lower stress levels, and boost creativity.

A recent study on social media in the workplace by Evolv showed that workers who visited 5 or more social networks during their work day boasted higher sales than their less socially active peers.

Creating rigid social media policies won’t do much to prevent its use, and makes you less appealing to millennial candidates.

Instead, try having an open dialogue about the personal use of social networks, what is okay, what isn’t, and trust your employees to know the difference.

You may even be able to capitalize on your millennial employee’s social media know how by getting them to help you grow your online brand.

If all else fails, try company yoga. It works for Lululemon!

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