Meet the Millennials: The next generation of your workforce. Be warned they think differently to you.

Posted on : 31-07-2014 | By : richard.gale | In : Innovation

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Whilst talking with a senior manager at one of the big banks he mentioned he was having trouble with some of his graduate trainees. He couldn’t work out why, after their two year induction, they were having such difficulties in ‘getting out there’ and making their mark on the business. We talked about this after the meeting and our thinking is that the traditional way of working may now be changing with the new generation of Millennials.

Every new generation now has a name- ‘Teenagers, Baby boomers, Generation X and now the Millennials – these are people born between 1980 and 2000 and are now growing up and changing the way organisations function and think. Obviously all these names are broad generalisations but how is this group of people different? The following list identifies the key characteristics of the Millennial:

They Multi-task naturally

Doing several things at once, updating social media, listening to music, watching something else whilst tapping out a note on their iPad is the norm for the Millennial generation. They are easily distracted they are great skills for the real world of work where there are always multiple things to get done. The prioritised, ordered to-do list is history and these guys take everything on at once. What needs to be managed is a clear set of goals that need to be achieved in relatively small and short pieces. This will ensure the most important stuff gets done first.

Their lives are connected and they are immersed in technology

Everything is available and connected, all answers are out there either through searching web, social media or just putting a question out there for an instant response. If your company isn’t out there using these channels then it effectively does not exist. Technology in all its forms is part of life now for this generation. There is no real need to train or get them ‘up to speed’ with applications but they will question why they can’t use their own devices and apps at work and why the firewall won’t let them get to Facebook.

They desire recognition and praise

They need this instantly and often, yearly reviews will not cut the mustard with them. They are used to feedback, likes, comments, suggestions as soon as they put something out there and they generally don’t mind who sees it. Recognising this need is important in hiring and retaining young people. Products are evolving to work in this way – just take a look at Salesforce’s (previously Rypple) that provides that continuous, on-going communication.

They need a great work/life balance

This is really about flexibility for both employee and employer. Millennials are hardworking and play hard too but they expect work to fit into their lives and they want balance. Companies need to show that they can flex and also, as importantly, be more than a faceless organisation. Employee events, charities, perks such as fitness clubs all help. Millennials will work hard to get the job done on time but don’t want to be dictated to on how to do it or where to do it from.

They demand transparency and honesty from those around them

Part of the frequent feedback and interaction is a level of openness and honesty. This needs to be encouraged and reciprocated by any employer or partner if they are going to succeed in retaining the millennials.

They are great team players

The new generation are all about teams, collaboration and communication. The days of going off, sitting alone and pushing through a set of work until completion are finished with these guys. Teamwork, sharing, supporting and pushing hard is where they excel.

They are ambitious

They have grown up with expectations that they can ‘do anything, go anywhere’.  It is critical that we support this as there is so much confident talent out there.


As to our senior manager friend at the bank, we talked again and he now sees the true benefits of working with the new generation and he’s loving it and changing too!