Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Managing Millennials at Work

May 10, 2018 Written by Oralie Chapman

What Every Business Owner Needs to Understand About Managing Millennials at Work 

As of 2015, millennials are the most populous generation in the workforce; accounting for 53 million workers in the United States. Their dominance will only grow in the coming years; by 2025 three out of every four workers globally will be millennials. With many business owners being part of older generations, it may be tempting to think that millennials need to adapt to the old ways of doing business but with an average cost of $24,000 to replace each millennial employee, the most successful businesses are those that have learned to successfully recruit and manage millennial workers by understanding what motivates them and avoiding common millennial managerial mistakes.


Top 5 mistakes to avoid when managing millennials at work:

1. Failing to create a good working atmosphere

While prior generations may have been more motivated by compensation and career advancement opportunities, those factors are not enough to keep most millennial employees happy. A Gallup poll released in 2016 found that when millennials felt “engaged” at work they were almost 65 percent less likely to job hop than millennial workers who described feeling “unengaged” at work. In addition, millennials care deeply about the mission of their company. One study found that 84 percent of millennials care more about making a difference in the world than about professional recognition while ninety-two percent of millennials believe businesses should be measured by more than their profits. Millennials want to work for businesses that create a meaningful work environment that allows them to feel they are working for a purpose bigger than themselves. When this happens, millennials feel more engaged and are more likely to stay loyal to the company.

2. Assuming millennials are only interested in technology for fun

Managers should keep in mind that technology is not just a fun distraction for millennials. Millennials are the first generation to really grow up with technology and fifty-six percent of millennials say they won’t accept jobs from companies that ban social media. They may like to check and post messages and social media updates in their personal lives but as employees they are eager to apply technology to workplace problems. In fact, they are much more capable of applying technology for professional purposes than members of older generations. 

A few things that employers should understand about millennials and their relationship to technology in the workplace: 

  • Despite their love of mobile phones and tablets, millennials care about their work/life balance and that means that they don’t want to be on call 24/7. 
  • Seventy percent of millennials admit to bringing their own apps to work in order to get work done.
  • Thirty-three percent of millennials would choose freedom to use social media and “device flexibility” over a higher salary. 
  • Eighty-seven percent of millennials say they would choose to work for a video-enabled organization over a company that has not invested in video.


3. Failing to personally motivate millennial employees.

Millennial employees care about increasing their skills and climbing the ladder at work and they want the hands-on guidance of their employer through regular face-to-face feedback and mentoring programs. In fact, seventy-seven percent of millennials said they felt that it was important to attend frequent face-to-face meetings; 10 percent more than Generation X respondents. 

Companies that have implemented mentoring programs between senior and millennial employees have seen increased employee retention rates. One of the reasons for this positive outcome is that the millennial employees were receiving regular feedback. A study released in 2016 found that while one third of millennial employees felt feedback was the single most important thing needed to improve professionally, less than 20 percent of millennials said they received routine feedback.

4. Underinvesting in employee training.

In any given company, about three out of four employees are looking to be promoted and almost 87 percent of millennials said professional development opportunities played a big part in their decision to accept a job offer. Employers can help millennial employees achieve their goals of workplace advancement by helping them strategize about what they want in their careers and understand what they need to do in order to reach their goals. When management makes the time to invest in training their millennial employees through workshops and online training programs they will be rewarded with employees who are more engaged at work and more likely to stay with the company.


5. Failing to provide workplace flexibility

Millennial employees value workplace flexibility. In fact, 89 percent of millennials would prefer to choose when and where they work over a traditional 9-to-5 job and 45 percent of millennials would choose workplace flexibility over higher pay. 

Managers working with millennials must understand that these workers are motivated by factors such as flexibility over compensation in many cases and may leave for a job that offers more flexibility. 

6. Assuming that millennials lack loyalty

While it is true that the average tenure for millennials is two years as compared to five years for Generation Xers and seven years for baby boomers, millennial employees can be swayed to stay at a company that offers a positive work environment, that invests in employee training and feedback, encourages the use of technology and puts in an effort to motivate its employees with a meaningful work environment.

PEOs help business owners manage millennials by:

  • Offering technology driven employee solutions (including convenient ways to get HR questions answered such as text messages and Facebook messenger).
  • Offering Visa Paycards for millennials who don’t have a bank account / good credit
  • Freeing up business owners so they have more time to mentor and train employees


Makai HR helps companies grow and strengthen their business

Companies who partner with a PEO benefit from 7-9% faster growth, 10-14% lower employee turnover; and they are 50% less likely to go out of business. 

Contact us today to learn about which of our tailored service plans is right for you!