An Employer’s Guide to Millennials
Millennials are the most studied generation to date and yet still many employers struggle to fully engage with and understand them. So, what makes millennials different from the generations that came before them? How can you understand this important subsect of your workforce and, what benefits can you achieve if you do? To help you with this, we have put together an employer’s guide to Millennials to help you better understand and engage your millennial employees.
N.B The following is based on general demographics and characteristics relating to the millennial group of employees
Who are millennials?
‘Millennials’ also known as Generation Y or Gen Y is the name given to individuals born between 1981 and c1995, making most millennials today between 25 and 40 years old. This employer’s guide to millennials generally focusses on that group, though many conclusions will apply to the later Gen Z population.
What are the benefits of employing millennials?
One of the first digitally native generations, millennials are generally considered to be some of the most technologically savvy members of the workforce. More diverse than older generations, they are generally seen as some of the more positive and tolerant members of the workforce. Statistically, the most educated generation, confident and ambitious who are keen to keep learning in the workplace.
What should I know about employing millennials?
Back when millennials were school children, the world seemed to be heading in a rather positive direction. The cold war was over, the economy was strong, Tony Blair was encouraging more people than ever to head to university and get an education and children were being encouraged to ‘live their dreams’ and ‘be anything they wanted to be’. There was talk of global warming but technology was advancing rapidly, making the Y2K bug cause barely a ripple, so the future seemed exciting as the first millennials graduated from high school in 2000.
Then, September 11, 2001 happened and the world became a much scarier place. Shortly afterwards in 2002, George Bush invaded Iraq, followed by a global recession in 2008. Millennials, as some of the most inexperienced employees, or as brand new graduates were some of the hardest hit by this economic downturn. From being raised to believe they were special, the world was getting better and they could achieve anything they wanted, they are now predicted to be the first generation to live worse lives than their parents, primarily due to financial reasons with high levels of student debt, high costs of living and stagnant wage growth.
What effect has this had on Millennials?
Research suggests that Millennials are the most stressed generation. Concerned about financial stability, with many believing they will never be able to afford to buy a house, have children or retire. They are concerned about protecting the environment and worried about burning out. They want their employers to do more to support them with their learning and development and mental health. In return, they approach their work with an entrepreneurial mindset and are eager to accept guidance and mentorship from older generations.
So. . . how can employers best engage a millennial workforce?
- It’s not just about money
Whilst the number one reason that millennials leave employers is due to pay, the top reasons why they stay in their roles is down to learning and development opportunities and work/life balance. A great place to start is by ensuring employees have regular development conversations with their managers. Millennials have higher expectations for learning and development from their employers, and a tendency to prefer more guidance and structure from these conversations – working with an outsourced HR provider like myHRdept to set the framework for these discussions is worth considering. Equally, in a post-covid world, more employees than ever are attracted by flexible working policies that allow them to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
- Talking about wellbeing isn’t enough
Wellbeing is a topic which has become a much greater area of focus since the pandemic started and yet both millennials and Gen Z are reporting that this has translated through to very little meaningful impact for employees. The younger generations are reporting increasingly high stress levels, yet also many feel unable to be honest about this to their managers. Making more well-being resources available to your employees and training managers to be more aware of mental health should be a priority to help retain your younger employees.
- They want and expect to be asked
Research shows that millennials would prefer a long-term relationship with a good employer, but that they expect that relationship to be a two-way one where they are asked for their opinion of, and participation in, the organisation. Performance reviews, town halls and employee engagement surveys are great ways to understand what your employees want from the business – speak to myHRdept if you want to know how we can help you with any of these.
- It starts with your managers
Whilst many generations have struggled to accept older leadership, (notably Gen X), most millennials actively look to their managers and leaders to be role models and promote learning and development. Upskilling your people managers to provide this guidance and leadership is key – the adage that goes ‘People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers’ has never been more true than for your millennial employees.
- Communication is key
The younger generations are used to having information at their fingertips and expect the same transparency from their employers. Your millennial and Gen Z employees are deeply invested in what you are doing for the environment, to promote equality and diversity and drive organisational change and they want to hear that message directly from you. Many millennials do not feel empowered to drive change within their organisation and believe that knowledge sharing (or the lack of) is a barrier to them being able to do this. Weekly or monthly business updates, department bulletins and shared working groups can help create a more empowering culture.
We hope you enjoyed this brief employer’s guide to employing Millennials. It is estimated that by 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be made up of Generation Y (born 1981-1995) and Generation Z (born 1996-2012). There are a lot of negative stereotypes out there about millennials but for better or worse they are now the largest sector of the workforce, so make the most of them!
Help from myHRdept
Our HR outsourced support packages have time available to discuss and form plans for employee engagement and management education. Our employee engagement programme can take as little as 8 hours to complete and the results can be genuinely eye opening. If you’d like to know how we can support you in better engaging employees across all age groups, please get in touch.