THE BLOG
10/31/2013 05:09 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

9 Ways to Scare the Socks Off Your Millennials This Halloween

This Halloween, Gen X, Baby Boomers, and Gen U (un-retired) are excited to scare the living daylights out of their office newbies. In addition to spiders in cups, popping out of break-room cupboards, and dressing like federal auditors, our team has compiled a list of the nine top ways to make millennials scream and shake in terror.

By 2025, approximately 75 percent of the world's workforce will consist of millennials (Gen Y), according to a study from the BPW Foundation. Companies that survive past 2025 will be those that develop the trust of the millennial workforce, while maintaining the trust of previous generations. Companies that disregard the mind-frame and work-style of Gen Y will scare away top talent and consumer dollars. Here are the nine sneakiest, creepiest and freakiest ways to scare millennials.

1) Redesign your organization in a way that limits its meaningfulness.

Millennials yearn for meaning. Without living through a draft or another major hardship, Gen Y desires more than stability and achievement. They want to work in organizations that are genuine to a meaningful mission. They don't want to merely provide products and services. Rather, they want to use them as tools to help develop people and society. In addition to a meaningful mission, they want their organization to have a strong environmental, social, and corporate governance strategy (ESG), be known as a leader in corporate responsibility, and give back generously and purposefully to their communities. If your company doesn't focus on meaningfulness and give freedom to create new avenues to make a difference, millennials will run the other direction -- to your competitor companies.

2) Delegate projects each day without explaining the "why".

Gen Y works best when leaders clearly explain how their work helps to expand the greater mission and purpose. They are the most educated generation in world history, so they're conditioned to asking and understanding "why this" and "why that". Influenced by their parents, who were impacted by the Hippie movement's backlash against top-down dictation, Gen Y isn't used to command and control styles of leadership. They are skeptical and used to being sold to. When their leaders dig into "why", they buy-in passionately. They want to feel the value and importance for their actions. Dig to "why" with millennials or you'll hear their shrieks of shock all year long.

3) Assign work with exact step-by-step procedures.

Gen Y gets bored and checked-out when given a roadmap. They have a penchant for problem solving and want challenges to face. Millennials are the first generation to grow up with the internet. They've spent their entire lives learning and trying multiple methods for accomplishing end goals. Scouring YouTube how-to videos, About.com explanations, experts' websites, Yahoo! conversation boards, etc. are standard protocol for figuring out how to do something. Their minds are like massive databases of ideas, and they want to apply them through trial and error. If their leaders teach top suggested methods, give them responsibility and trust them to deliver results on deadlines then they are likely to innovate more efficient methods and get high quality results. Try it, or they might turn into work zombies.

4) Manage like helicopter bosses.

Gen Y's distaste for institutions makes them a different experience to manage. Their objectives for meaningfulness and fulfillment make them best-off to manage with a coaching tilt. They find fulfillment and meaning in their own personal development, and managers can function as catalysts in the process. They need their managers to give deadlines and hold them accountable to deliverables, but they respond best to managers who come alongside of them, remove barriers, and give constant feedback. Millennials want this type of customized constant feedback from their leaders because it's what they're used to. They were told they were special as kids and received trophies even for 9th and 10th place, they're accustomed to Amazon and Pandora learning and catering to their interests, and they like it when their text messages and Facebook statuses receive instantaneous responses. They desire their leaders to give customized honest coaching that helps them develop personally and get better professional results. Pop out of the bushes with only carrots and sticks and millennials might respond aggressively.

5) Situate them to work alone in corner cubes.

Millennials are also known as "generation we" because of their strong social mindset. Despite growing up in the most individualistic nation in history, American millennials think and act socially. They know that better results and meaning come through collaboration. They're used to the flat connected world and used to working with people from varying cultures. Gen Y knows that strategizing and executing with three or eight or 21 varying perspectives leads to high caliber and balanced results. Consider setting up your office in a way that's more conducive to collaboration and get increased productivity by letting millennials work and compete on teams. If they're disconnected from the whole, you may, one day, be horrified to find them shriveled up like raisins.

6) Force a strict nine to six Monday through Friday schedule.

According to a recent Fox Small Business report, 85 percent of Americans say that their stress is a serious health issue. American millennials desperately want to find a healthy work-life balance. They're victims to some of the world's worst divorce rates, and they don't want their children to experience the same hardships. Part of their strong desire for meaning is fulfilled through flexibility that allows them to scamper away from the office for their daughter's early Monday afternoon piano recital, to have lunch with their family on Wednesday, and to hit the gym on Thursday morning. The lines between work and home are blurred for Gen Y. They're happy to make up time over the weekend and interested to work from their home office using Skype and Google Docs. Bring happiness to your millennials through flexibility and accountability, or they'll feel like their office is a booby trap.

7) Deprive them of new technology.

The lives of Gen Y mark the dawn of post-humanism. Gadgets are like an extension of a millennial, allowing them to work better and faster. And, they've projected and marketed avatars of themselves through social media for a decade. They become quickly frustrated using techniques and tools that are outdated, because they know better technology will allow them to work smarter, not harder, and get better results. Give millennials the latest technology, and you might be surprised at how quickly it makes an impact on your bottom line.

8) Tolerate ethical mishaps and expect little from employees.

The 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer found that only 17.5 percent of people around the globe trust their business and government leaders. The sad truth is that Gen Y expects ethical mishaps from many of their leaders and they're probably personally influenced by grimy college experiences and superficial reality television shows. There is great opportunity for improvement, and Gen Y wants it. One of your organization's greatest competitive advantages in the talent economy is to have trusted leaders and challenging employee development programs. Millennials have experienced enough mishaps from people like Lance Armstrong, Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods, and Anthony Weiner to know how important it is to think ethically and socially. They work purposefully when given ethical dilemmas, and expect them to respond positively when given honest feedback that challenges their own behavior. Settle for mediocrity in ethics, and millennials... won't be surprised. Strive for what's right, and you'll garner uncommon unity and drive.

9) Ask them to sign rigid 20-year contracts.

Millennials are just as committed as boomers, but it looks a whole lot different. Whereas boomers and prior generations were committed to companies, Gen Y is committed to meaningful missions. They get passionate about social issues and use organizations as platforms to carry out their mission. According to Marcus and Jane Buckingham, millennials are expected to have at least seven positions during their careers. To them, change is a constant, and they've grown used to it. Companies' must do the same or provide internal opportunities for lateral shifts. When it comes to compensation, millennials want to have a conversation. With many boomer parents who disliked the "seen, but not heard" parenting and leadership styles of traditionalists, millennials grew up with parents who made everything a conversation. This means that millennials are used to negotiating everything, and they're often thought of for their unrealistic expectations. Be honest and direct while wading through some of their known characteristics for narcissism and entitlement, but still allow for conversation that leads to mutual agreement. All in all, bring clarity to realistic expectations, give much, and ask for much, but don't drop a 40-page 20-year contract on the table.

Utilize these Gen Y scare tactics today and you'll scare your top talent away, build a reputation that keeps them away, and risk your organizations survival past 2025. Counteract these scare tactics, and you'll develop the trust of top talent, attract other top talent, and begin to gain faster results, deeper relationships, and a stronger bottom-line.