Ah, millennials…you either love them or loathe them. However, you won’t be able to avoid them for long. That’s because millennials, defined roughly as those born between 1977 and 1995, represent the largest demographic ever, even outstripping the famous Baby Boom of the 1960s.
Millennials carry with them a lot of baggage, especially in the realm of workplace myths. For example, some myths that surround millennials are that they’re good with technology, independent, and lazy.
The truth is, of course, that some millennials fall into this categorization and others are defying it. Here are the facts about managing millennials and how older generation X and Y leaders can ensure a happy, productive workplace when managing millennials.
First Job, New Skills
Although millennials may like to work independently and may work best on their own, they still need coaching. Many millennials skipped over the afterschool jobs that older generations experienced, and they went straight from high school to college and college to careers without having any workplace experience.
Ringing sales at the local department store or slinging burgers at a fast food restaurant may not seem to correlate to working in the accounting department of a nonprofit. However, those minimum wage jobs that many older generation workers experienced as their first jobs taught valuable life skills that millennials never experienced. Showing up on time, learning customer service skills, and learning processes and procedures may not have been part of their life experience.
Do not assume that just because your new junior accountant has a college degree she understands how to work in a group, take direction, or follow procedures. She may need coaching on basic workforce behaviors. Set expectations and provide clear guidelines.
Pairing an experienced worker with your new millennial hires may also help. They may resonate with the partner or buddy system better than formal training programs and get more out of it.
Basic things like: how to dress for a business meeting, how to behave in a corporate setting, and even the importance of returning messages on time may all be new skills for your millennial employees. Take nothing for granted and consider them a clean slate with a lot to learn until they prove otherwise. They aren’t being rude; they just haven’t been taught a lot of the basics that older generations assume were learned along the way.
Millennials Are Loyal
One myth that we’d like to put aside is the myth that millennials are disloyal. The truth is that they can be loyal employees if the organizations they work for treat them right. To a millennial, that means appropriate work-life balance, challenging assignments, and valuing input. Millennials will remain at a nonprofit organization for three years or longer if they find their ideas, opinions, and talents are honored and used appropriately.
Lastly, there’s a myth that millennials are tech-savvy. In actually, they are tech-dependent, and that’s a whole different story. Tech-dependent means they rely upon their devices to the point that they feel they can’t work without them. We may feel we can’t leave the house without our watch; they feel they can’t leave the house without their iPhone.
Millennials may not be technically savvy: Meaning that they may not be able to solve computer problems, understand how to integrate an API into the back end of an accounting program, or any of the myriad other technical problems we encounter in our work days. They do, however, know how to use their devices and rely upon them for many basic things.
Consider this when communicating with millennials. They may turn to their text messages first rather than their office phone lines for messages. They may rely upon instant messages, texts, emojis or other methods of communicating rather than picking up the phone and speaking directly to you. It’s not that they don’t value direct communication. It’s just not their first inclination.
Every generation interacts differently in the workforce. We are all, to some extent, molded and shaped by the life experiences and culture we grew up in. Millennials are no different. Understanding their rationale, knowing where they have knowledge gaps, and meeting them halfway goes a long way towards helping them acclimate into your workforce and becoming productive contributors.
Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.