Millennials Just Wanna Have Fun: 5 Lesser Known Facts about Managing the New Blood of the 21st Century Workforce

In under a decade, millennials will make up over three-quarters of the global workforce. Infamous for their entitled and lazy attitude, millennials aren't all that bad at all, if you know how to manage them.


Who exactly is a 'Millennial'?

To put it simply, a millennial is any individual born during the period of 1980 to 1999. They are the products of a knowledge-based economy, and are the most highly educated generation of this time. In their short lives so far, they have witnessed the turn of a century, the IT boom and Internet bubble burst. Unlike the earlier generations, millennials have learnt early on to not make their work their life and practice a more wholesome lifestyle compared to those who came before them. 

The Future Belongs to these Millennials

Love 'em or hate 'em, you're going to be stuck with them. In the coming years, we will see an increasing number of millennials joining the workforce. By 2030, millennials are poised to constitute over 75% of the global workforce. Given that, it only seems prudent for managers and leaders to learn how to manage millennials more effectively. 

Unfortunately, millennials have got a bad reputation. They're infamous for their entitled views and lazy attitude and many Gen X and Y-ers feel that millennials just aren't willing to carry their own weight. This is all very sad because, as a millennial myself, I can tell you that we come with our fair share of positives too. That's why I have taken it upon myself to reveal five lesser known truths about my generation that will help any leader to manage them better in the workforce: 

1) We place high importance on work-life balance

Having witnessed our working parents and relatives complain about their hectic work during our growing up years, we realized the importance of leading holistic and wholesome lives early on. That's one of the reasons why millennials place so much importance on achieving work-life balance. 

Therefore, millennials find workplaces which offer flexible time, remote working options and unlimited vacation time attractive. In fact, they are willing to give up a higher salary in exchange for these benefits. 

Also Read: Struggling to Maintain your Work-Life Balance? Try these strategies on your Boss & Peers

2) We crave instant, timely feedback 

Gone are the days of yearly performance evaluations. Millennials aren't willing to wait 6-12 months for feedback. They want it right then and there. Feedback is seen by us as both a source of learning & development as well as appreciation. A lack of feedback may cause millennials to feel like their work is neither important nor acknowledged. 

To deal with this, leaders who are managing teams with millennials, should learn to provide specific and timely feedback to them.  Schedule face-to-face meetings regularly and put in effort to make it a meaningful one-on-one for your employees

3) We prefer Mentors to Managers

As you probably know by know, millennials don't bow down in the face of hierarchy or seniority. That should explain why we prefer having mentors to bosses or supervisors. While in charge of millennials, leaders must avoid being micromanagers and instead help them find their inner purpose

Also Read: 3 Cs of every good Mentor

4) We aren't afraid of challenges

Don't let our relative inexperience hold you back from utilizing our true potential. We welcome challenging work that makes us rack our brains hard. Instead of assigning us repetitive, rote work, feel free to exploit our creativity and out-of-the-box thinking for other tasks. Likewise, do give us a chance to put on our leadership hat and take over the reins for certain projects. We will forever be grateful for the opportunity. 

Also Read: How to be seen as a Leader and be considered for a promotion (even if you've not led teams yet!)

5) We need to make a difference

Millennials are big believers in sharing & caring. As a result, they place a great deal of importance on giving back to society and making a difference in the lives of others. As a leader, you won't go wrong by showing your millennial team members the big picture. Tell them how their contributions are snowballing and changing lives of others, for the better. Likewise, you should also create avenues for them to tap into their altruistic side by initiating various CSR activities. 

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It may seem impossible or difficult to work alongside millennials at first but once you get to know them, you'll realize that their positives far outweigh the negatives. Just ensure that they have access to strong leadership, have identified a sense of higher purpose in their work and enjoy the freedom to be themselves & you'll not have any reason to complain. 

Questions for Reflection

Have you had the opportunity to work with millennials? How would you rate the experience and why?

What steps can organizations / leaders take to ensure millennials continue to work with/for them?

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Chaitra K

With a background in Literature and Psychology, and an MBA in Human Resources Management, Chaitra is responsible for the design and production of NKoach’s courses, workshops and corporate training programs. Her mission is to help people discover their passion and become better versions of themselves.

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