The Myth Behind the Millennial Mindset and How to Manage Younger Workers

Apr 18, 2017

The Myth Behind the Millennial Mindset and How to Manage Younger Workers

Managing millennials can be challenging for HR departments. Many myths and broad generalizations about this generation have emerged. But, there are risks involved with relying too heavily on generalizations for managing any particular demographic.

First, who are these younger workers? The term millennials is used to categorize individuals born within the range of 1981 to 2001. Various researchers and pollsters disagree on the exact years when the generation starts and stops, but the consensus is people born during the early 1980s.

Because this generation of workers has been labeled lazy, entitled, and job-hoppers by older generations, managers have a tendency to lump workers in this age range into a broad category instead of evaluating each employee as an individual person.

When put into practice, these characterizations are dangerous for the HR department and overall company. It reduces return on investment and increases turnover risk by acting upon the belief that everyone from one generation fits into a one-size-fits-all management approach. The reality is people are people no matter what age, and people are unique.

The key is understanding how each individual from the so-called millennial generation thinks, behaves, and ultimately works - going beyond "what you see" to what can be measured. A successful manager will understand both how the person works (employee responsibility) and how they should be managed (employer responsibility).

But, how do you peel back the layers of what you perceive to be "millennial behavior" to understand the individual person? There are advanced tools to help managers objectively measure the core motivators of each worker.

Don't Be a Millennial Specialist - Be a People Specialist

ZERORISK HR studied one company that saw an increase in turnover despite believing they were catering to millennials.

The company brought in basketball hoops, table tennis, and other amenities to create a "cool work environment." But, more workers left the company. Why? The company played into myths about how to cater to millennial workers.

The study found that the millennials actually thought the company was wasting money on these amenities; the money spent on installing a basketball court could have been given back to them in the form of performance bonuses when they added value to the company.

Ironically, the managers, who were largely from the baby boomer generation, fell victim to the very myth they sneered at while trying to figure out how to cater to millennials. Millennials have a reputation for seeking a quick fix and instant gratification. Yet, the older generation tried to achieve a quick fix by frivolously spending money on amenities instead of truly understanding their employees.

What the study found is that younger workers preferred one-on-one coaching and emotional intelligence training. They wanted to be built up in their career, not treated like kids needing a recess break. When the company re-focused on building relationships by being a people specialist, not a millennial specialist, they saw a reduction in turnover.

The Absence of Motivation is De-Motivation

Managers have a tendency to assume that millennials are motivated by trivial elements. Sure, some workers who happen to fall in the millennial age range might seem like they are motivated by doing less to achieve more. But, workers from all generations have the same underlying desires:

  • Fair pay
  • Work/life balance
  • Opportunities for training and growth

Millennials seem to get a bad rap from managers because there is an assumption that younger workers want to get more than they are willing to put in. For example, desiring more money for less work.

But, all generations of workers want more money for less work. The issue is that because millennials are one more generation removed from the Greatest Generation, there is an assumption that each subsequent generation has become lazier and less motivated to work.

This cycle is part of a dangerous mindset attempting to manage a category of people based on myths. Instead, successful managers understand how to work with individual people.

In practice, the absence of motivation is de-motivation. In other words, if you do not understand a person's core motivations and try to apply a one-size-fits-all management approach, you cannot effectively manage the individual and motivate them to produce for your company.

How to Unlock Younger Workers' Core Motivations

The ZERORISK Hiring System gives managers the information they need by uncovering core motivators for each employee who completes their ZR Profile. The benefits of the ZR Hiring System include:

  • Objective, measurable scores on each employee's emotional intelligence competencies
  • Insight on how to adopt communication practices, management tactics, and best approaches geared toward each employee
  • Removes biases when analyzing each employee by referring to the objective score

Access to this powerful information allows HR managers to reduce turnover and increase ROI because they have deeper understanding of how to manage each employee on a one-on-one basis. It also creates a custom approach to managing workers, both young and old.

This goes well beyond the myths of what makes millennials tick by gaining knowledge about the individuals in your company. So, remove the guesswork from managing millennials by signing up your company to use the ZERORISK Hiring System during your next employee review.

ZERORISK helps organizations build great cultures by identifying, developing, and retaining top talent. The ZERORISK Hiring System blends a revolutionary behavioral science with state-of-the-art technology to reduce unwanted turnover and improve employee performance. For more information contact us at (800) 827-5991.

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