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Managing Millennials

A common topic in any business is the challenge of managing millennials in the workplace. Getting the most from your millennial employees is key to business success, and this may require a different style of leadership and emotional intelligence to inspire and support those individuals to achieve great results.

The media often depicts millennials as entitled narcissists who expect to be coddled. If you suspect the real picture might be slightly less one-dimensional, you are right. There is often an undeniable distance between many millennials and their bosses. Communication might be the biggest challenge which prevents employers from seeing eye-to-eye with today’s 24 to 38 year-olds.

But it is not narcissism that drives millennials’– it is yearning for a higher purpose and a sense of direction. Coming of age at a time of economic, political, and ecological uncertainty and exponentially rapid technological change has left some disillusioned with established institutions and ways of working. Millennials are the first generation that has not needed an authority figure to access information. It has been a game-changer. 

As the most tech-savvy, educated, and informed generation in history, immersed in social media, they often feel tremendous pressure to compete and set themselves apart. Raised to succeed from early childhood, with incessant coaching and feedback, they naturally expect feedback at work.

The sometimes misinterpreted behaviour as a young employee is being disinterested in their job. They simply learn to look everywhere for an answer before they often approach an authority figure. Subsequently, many may struggle to communicate with management and senior figures. 

The millennial generation has grown up in the age of the Internet, they are used to being able to access information easily, often at their fingertips, via smartphones. That lends these young employees a self-assuredness to which previous generations cannot always relate.

For millennials, the concept of “work-life balance” is outdated; work is central to their lives, and they are looking for meaningful, purpose-driven challenges and inspiring mentors. 71% of millennials will leave a role within two years if they do not feel their skills are being developed, according to Deloitte

A Gallup poll found 21% of millennials have changed jobs in the past year – over three times the number of non-millennials. It is a drastic shift from parents’ and grandparents’ generations, where people often spent their entire careers with the same employer.

Millennials will soon outnumber non-millennials in the global workforce – so if you want to attract and retain talent in the future, it is vital to mentor your people and investing in their growth and personal development. Millennials want an inclusive, collaborative workplace where they can grow and develop.

A PwC study found that 65% of millennials cited opportunities for personal development as their reason for choosing their current role. They also ranked mentorship and training among their top three deciding factors in choosing a job. The traditional office where employees get feedback once a year at their annual review must change. Millennials want more regular feedback – preferably monthly, according to a joint study by Harvard and Oxford Economics.

So how can high-tech and engineering employers attract and retain the best millennial talent? Here are four strategies.


Millennials are passionate about personal development; 63% say they seek jobs with opportunities to learn and grow, and 67% say they would leave a role with few growth opportunities.

They want both instruction and independence, so teach them through conversations, not commands, allowing for feedback and repeating. Give them measurable goals and help them hold themselves accountable for achieving them. Do not threaten punishment if they make mistakes but give them the confidence to take responsibility for their actions, and the support they need to fix their mistakes.


Millennials look up to their leaders as role models. Managers who listen and connect with them on a personal level will be respected. Remember they want to feel inspired – work is not just about money for them, it is part of how they express their identity. Coach them on important projects, tasks, and tools, but give them the flexibility to achieve their goals in their own way.

Also, consider reverse mentoring – your millennial employees can act as expert advisers to their seniors on topics like social media, while also receiving mentoring from them. This will help them develop leadership skills as well as building strong relationships, loyalty, and trust.

Establish clear goals.

Establish and share clear and consistent goals for individual employees, teams, and the business. Make the goals clear, with milestones along the way which can be celebrated and recognised along the way.


Millennials want leaders who give guidance, not orders. Build trust and understanding by creating a supportive environment with a “flat hierarchy” where workers can connect with managers directly – including senior leaders. Replace bureaucracy with honest communication and collaboration. 

Encourage junior staff to speak freely, ask their opinions, and show that you respect their views. Millennials will not stay in a workplace where they feel like cogs in a machine; they want responsibility, and they need to feel valued.

Create a sense of purpose

Millennials often want to make a statement with their lives and with their jobs. They need to feel that what they do is meaningful and makes a difference. This also serves to increase employee engagement—which in turn improves employee retention rates. e.g., Initiate recycling programs at work, and enable employees to pursue philanthropic causes affiliated with the business.

Whatever changes and process are adopted in managing a millennial workforce, remember that employee feedback is essential to improving performance and job satisfaction. Consider using a survey tools to find out how and what all employees really feel about their job, what they are doing, environment and the leadership.

If you are looking for great employees and leaders and seek a knowledge-led approach to talent acquisition in high-tech contract, interim and permanent recruitment, Redline is here to help. 

Otherwise why not read some of our other blogs on employee attraction.

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