Make Way for the Millennials

We’ve been giving thought lately to generational differences across the workforce and specifically how businesses can work best with the generational group just now beginning to enter the workforce, young people born between 1981 and 2000; the cohort dubbed Millennials.

There’s a ton of information being written about the Millennials right now, and while we think much of it is speculative, there are a some recurring characteristics that do ring true.

1. Millennials are tech savvy.  Just watch a 20-year old setting up a smartphone to realize Millennials have an intuitive comfort with technology. Earlier generations get comfortable with new technology in the workplace; Millennials come that way. What does that mean for training?  Think interactive technology.

2. Millennials are socially connected. Regardless of the social media platform (and the one you are using is probably not cool enough for a millennial), this generation seeks connection. And those connections don’t stop with their phones and laptops. When there’s a problem to be solved, this group is hotwired to ask questions and seek input from anywhere it is available.

3. Millennials are team players. More than previous generations, Millennials of both genders participated in team sports and group activities from an early age. As a group, they are less likely to seek personal attention and prefer helping the group succeed.

4. Millennials thrive on positive feedback. Baby Boomers, the parents of Millennials, are often criticized for over-coaching and heaping praise on their children even in the face of lackluster performance. Positive reinforcement in the workplace is likely to be more effective than coercion.

5. Millennials are great multi-taskers. While previous generations may have learned to juggle phones, computers, back-to-back meetings, and conflicting demands, Millennials thrive on them. Put these workers in a secluded office with a single task, and theyíre not going to be happy.

Here at Working Person’s Store, a tech-based online retailer with employees in all age groups, we think it’s beneficial to think about cross-generational differences that might impact the performance and job satisfaction of each team player. We also think it is important to avoid relying too heavily on generalities that might get in the way of really getting to know our team and helping both them and the business thrive.