How Is Your Small Business Managing Millennials in the Workplace?

One of the many challenges small businesses face today is integrating and managing Millennial employees with other generations of their workforce.
11/17/2014 01:13 pm ET Updated Jan 17, 2015

One of the many challenges small businesses face today is integrating and managing Millennial employees with other generations of their workforce. Millennials are the newest generation of workers, and when they enter the job market they have specific expectations that your other staff may not. It's important to remember that the Millennial generation is the future of your company, so now's the time to learn how to manage this generation effectively to keep them performing at the highest levels within your company.

Who Are the Millennials?
Millennials were born between 1981 and 1994. They often display a high amount of self-confidence and believe in value for their work above all else. But unlike past generations, your Millennials are not overly independent. They often rely on their parents for career advice, and some may even live at home. When dealing with Millennials provide reinforcement and instant feedback, but remember that they may reach out to their parents for additional direction and advice.

Work/Life Balance
Millennials are not willing to give up their lifestyle for their careers. They value flexibility, which means you need to accommodate that lifestyle with different shifts, flexible hours, or even part-time work. Your average Millennial is not looking for the typical nine-to-five position. Instead, they want a career that allows them to enjoy the lifestyle to which they're accustomed and gives them the opportunity to multitask -- especially when it comes to technology.

What a Millennial Needs From Management
Downtime is viewed as a negative by Millennials, and so are positions that require monotonous work. While your Millennial employees may value their job, they value their time much more, so you need to ensure they feel like their making the most of it.

Most Millennials are team-oriented, so bringing them together in cooperative groups may be the best way to maximize their potential. Diversity is also important, since Millennials have grown up in a culturally diverse environment. Millennials also rely heavily on new technologies to communicate, so many prefer to use instant messaging, email, or even texting to communicate with management and other employees. Their generation looks at these forms of communication as quick and efficient. Lastly, your Millennials demand feedback (both positive and negative). They need to know where they stand at all times.

How to Manage Your Millennial Staff
Recruitment: You want to emphasize how your small business contributes to society and how the position will benefit their careers.
Work management: Effectively managing Millennial employees also requires you to give them multiple tasks to be done at once. Unlike other generations, Millennials look for and thrive in situations where they can multi-task. They also want to work in an environment where they can collaborate and work closely with others. While you'll want to hold them accountable for their mistakes, at the same time you should work to bring out their better qualities and help them develop the skills they need to improve.
Work environment: Offer flexible work schedules and a relaxed work environment. Provide regular opportunities for socializing. You'll find that while they socialize, they are also working--comparing notes, discussing and brainstorming various options for getting work done, etc.
Learning opportunities: Tuition reimbursement is highly valued by the Millennial generation, as is employee training so that they can further their skills.
Motivational tools: Millennials value time and rewards, so offer paid time off, bonuses, and/or gift certificates.

Managing Millennials takes time and, for your small business, may mean making significant adjustments. But since they're the future of your company, those management changes will eventually pay off. Their fresh ideas and ways of working will definitely benefit the company as a whole and encourage their loyalty.

Margaret Jacoby, SPHR, is the founder and president of MJ Management Solutions,a human resources consulting firm that provides small businesses with a wide range of virtual and onsite HR solutions to meet their immediate and long-term needs. From ensuring legal compliance to writing customized employee handbooks to conducting sexual harassment training, businesses depend on our expertise and cost-effective human resources services to help them thrive. This article first appeared on the MJ Management Solutions blog.

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