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Review: Millenials in the Workplace

by Thursday Bram on August 31, 2010

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Millenials — members of the generation born between 1982 and 2004 — are not what most employers expect, based on their interactions with older employees. They expect more hands-on management, flexibility and positive reinforcement. All of that is easy to misunderstand, especially for employers used to being told that checking in regularly was micromanagement.

Neil Howe has been studying the Millenial generation for close to 25 years. He’s the author of Generations, the book that named the generation. His newest book, Millenials in the Workplace is a necessary guide for any employer even considering working with employees born after 1982.

The Generational Divide

There are problems any time a new generation starts coming into the workforce — just look at how the Baby Boomers changed both society and their own employers. But the shift to working with Millenials seems particularly tense. Some employers seem to think that the broad characteristics that typify Millenials make them poor workers. The willingness to job hop, for instance, has endeared few younger workers to their bosses.

But when you look at Millenials within the context of their generation, they may be among some of the most dedicated employees that many organizations will see. Howe identifies seven core traits of the generation as a whole and points to the benefits of each. Those seven are special, sheltered, confident, team-oriented, conventional, pressured and achieving. All of them — even ‘special’ — can work to an employer’s benefit with a little consideration. Working with Millenial employees who want consideration can allow an employer to give them ways to excel and earn that consideration.

Using This Book

Any employer should read through Millenials in the Workplace, if only to understand how his human resources strategies will have to change the day a Millenial employee walks into the organization. If you have a human resources department in place, asking its members to read through the book will also be beneficial. Surprisingly, it may also make for a useful read for younger members of your staff, particularly those who fall into the Millenial category. Some Millenial characteristics may not be immediately obvious to someone living them, and you may find that a book like Millenials in the Workplace will help them understand what an older employer expects and how human resources policies are shaped by the employees they ostensibly govern.

But don’t restrict yourself to just one time through the book, for you or your employees. It’s not quite a textbook, but there is some heavy reference material inside that is worth returning to as you adjust your human resources policies to reflect the reality of younger employees. It’s likely that employment will continue to evolve as Millenials age and having research materials handy will only help. After all, only the beginning edge of the Millenial generation is even thinking about having children — those sorts of decisions will impact their careers in ways we may not yet be able to imagine.

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    • Joe

      In other words the job needs to revolve around their social life.

    • Corena

      Hi, this is Corena at LifeCourse. I like how you point out that the book is helpful for employees as well as employers. Thanks for the review!