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Managing Millennial and Gen Z Employees

In today’s world, you may manage people with vastly different needs, values, and expectations, which are largely influenced by generational differences. Challenges may arise when managing people in a different generation than you, and this blog will help managers navigate the needs of the younger workforce.

We’ll focus on Gen Y.1 (“Millennials,” age 25-29) and Gen Z (currently ages up to 24) in this blog post since they are the newest to the workforce and are perplexing their managers of earlier generations.

It’s important to remember that what people want out of their employer is a reflection of their life experience. The world that Millennials and Gen Z have grown up in is very different from that of Gen X and Baby Boomers who came before them.

  • Millennials and Gen Zers have spent most or all of their life using and learning new technology, especially smart devices.
  • They have experienced two of the worst recessions in history (The Great Recession in 2008 and the COVID-19 Pandemic) and their jobs were greatly impacted by both.
  • They are burdened with student loans and are facing all-time highs for costs of living.

Earlier generations can be bewildered by behaviors that Millenials and Gen Zers express because it’s different from the working culture they thrived in during their early careers. Despite these surprises, it’s important not to write them off as immature or entitled behaviors of the younger generations. By recognizing their unique drives and needs, you can keep younger employees more engaged and reduce conflict between managers and the employees they supervise.

While Millennials and Gen Z are two distinct groups and their needs and drives vary somewhat, many of their top values in the workplace overlap. Here’s a list of the top five factors and strategies you can implement to meet these needs.

Competitive compensation and benefits

As mentioned above, everything is very expensive these days. Millennials and Gen Zers are often not making much money since they are exploring or just settling into a career path, and don’t have the purchasing power of older generations because of steep inflation and increased costs of living. So it makes sense that they are eager for competitive salaries. When sharing the salary range with a candidate, also explain the employee review process, what a typical annual raise is, how often promotions occur, and if there is a bonus target for that role.

These days, employees are also looking for a strong benefits package that includes medical and dental insurance, paid vacation and sick time, paid parental leave, and a retirement match. Highlight the components of your compensation and benefits plan on your company careers webpage and share a detailed package with a candidate when you make them an offer.

Quick promotions

This goes hand-in-hand with how they value money, but also shows up for another reason. The heart of the matter is that many younger workers get bored easily. Now, that may sound like a negative thing, but it’s really not. These employees grew up learning information so quickly with technology and experienced rapid change that they have become used to that fast pace of life and expect to see it play out in their work environment, too.

If it’s too early to promote an employee but they are outgrowing their role, try offering some of these ideas to keep them challenged and engaged. 

 

  • Additional ad-hoc projects they can be compensated for.
  • Work in two-week sprints that have specific short-term goals that roll into larger team goals. This will allow employees to improve processes and try new tactics.
  • Crossfunctional team initiatives that colleagues can lead and work on with others to accomplish organizational goals.

Flexibility

Gen Y.2 (Millennials ages 30-39) are already raising families, owning homes, and supporting their aging parents, and Gen Y.1 (Millennials ages 25-29) are also beginning to do those things. Hire employees you trust and then give them the flexibility to do their work the best way it suits them as long as it doesn’t conflict with other company needs. Increasing these employees’ autonomy and flexibility will yield better results than forcing them to work on a tight schedule that no longer aligns with their life.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation to-date, and also the most well-educated. Coming of working age in a time of political and social unrest, they demand more from their employer. This includes having action-oriented Employee Resources Groups (ERGs) as well as policies, procedures, and leaders that reinforce the company’s ideals.

  • If you are a smaller company with limited resources in the People Operations or Human Resources department, budget funds to hire a DEI Consultant to improve your company policies and culture.
  • Provide cultural sensitivity and implicit bias training for all employees.
  • Fund learning and development initiatives related to DEI, such as reimbursements for books and workshops.
  • Elect Executive Sponsors for ERGs and set structures and goals for each group. Ensure that the ERGs engage with the Human Resources department to offer feedback and suggestions for making the company more inclusive.

Doing work with a greater purpose

These generations want to make a difference, which may be straightforward at organizations like non-profits or mission-driven companies. Other companies can implement these practices to offer more value to employees.

  • Quarterly team community engagements
  • Paid time off designated for volunteering
  • Employee Resources Groups where employees can make a difference within the company
  • Matching employee donations to charities or offering a stipend to each employee to donate to the charity of their choice

Contact me if you are looking to learn how The Outstanding Company can provide more guidance on navigating generational differences in your workplace.