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Is your workplace Millennial-friendly?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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"Millennials are the most protected, most provided for and most educated generation of all time" — and work best in nontraditional workplaces, Elisa Webb Hill of XYZ University told online participants during "Millennials: How to Engage the Next Generation Now," the NEW Multigenerational Leadership webinar, July 16, 2015.

Creating Millennial-friendly work environments for these rewards-focused, digitally savvy employees without alienating others is critical to organizational success, Hill said.

Millennial employees — born between 1982 and 1995, also called "Generation Y" — are looking to lead, and because there aren't enough Generation Xers to fill positions left vacant by retiring Baby Boomers, "they're going to move into leadership positions faster than any generation before them," Hill said.

With an upbringing among technology, media and messaging, Millennials are natural multitaskers. "They can take in lots of information very quickly, disseminate it and act on it," she noted.

While many consider Millennials to be "spoiled," they are not a wasteful generation, Hill said. "They are sitting on more than $1 trillion of student loan debt."

Still, the Millennial generation "is about the next gig," and Hill urged leaders to consider how they can capitalize on that entrepreneurial spirit.

Different strokes

While Millennials share core values, it's a mistake to "put them all in one bucket," Hill said. Many do fall into these categories, though: Digital natives, Recessionistas, Migrators and Trophy Kids.

Digital natives exemplify the technological mindset of Millennials. "Wi-Fi is their drug. They see technology as giving them freedom," Hill said. "For digital natives, everything needs to be customized, including the work experience."

Recessionistas react practically to the debt concerns and are highly informed shoppers. "Before they purchase a product, they probably know more about that product than the person selling it," she said.

Migrators are Generation Y members who openly move away from long-held traditions, expressing themselves freely — such as with visible tattoos — and have a YOLO (You Only Live Once) attitude.

"For a lot of companies, this is a problem because this generation is interacting with an older generation," Hill said. All team members must understand that migrators thrive when they "live, work and play in the same community."

Trophy kids represent the stereotype of Millennials most often recognized by older generations, a generation raised with — and craving — structure and positive reinforcement. For them, feedback is important. "Feedback doesn't have to be cumbersome," Hill explained. In certain cases, "feedback can be as simple as an emoticon."

If you have a trophy kid on your team, Hill added, "this is the Millennial that raises a hand" for opportunities to lead and learn.

In general, the Millennial generation wants to collaborate, make a difference — and have fun. Understanding their needs, along with the needs of every generation, will enhance teamwork overall.

"We all want to work in a workplace where we feel we belong," Hill said.

The NEW Multigenerational Leadership Series is designed to help the industry's leaders and aspiring leaders, of all ages, manage today's multigenerational workforce. The six-webinar series continues with "When Your Employee is Older: Leadership Lessons for Millennials" on August 27, 2015 at 1 pm ET. The series is free to NEW members, who may catch up on past webinars in the NEW Study Hall. Non-members may view webinars for $99 each.


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