In 2015, millennials surpassed Gen X as the largest generation in the United States workforce, according to Pew Research Center’s analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. This means that if a majority of your staff doesn’t fall into this group—defined as ages 18-34 as of 2015—they likely will very soon. Here are five tips to help manage this age group effectively in your operation.
1. Provide encouragement
“Millennials have grown up with a lot more encouragement than other generations, and this requires us to look at training them differently,” says Amanda Tutor, director of dining services for Chartwells at Northland College in Ashland, Wis. “We need to invest in their training, give them continuous feedback and look at the use of mentors to offer guidance and reinforce company culture.”
2. Try check-ins instead of meetings
“[Millennials] do not seem to like having regular meetings where they feel like little information is being shared, so answering quick questions over technology or quick check-ins seem to be the best ways to provide feedback and answer questions,” Tutor says. Millennials also prefer to receive information digitally, by text or email, as opposed to hard copy materials or phone calls, says David Tofanelli, director of dining services for Morrison Community Living at Lutheran SeniorLife Passavant Community in Zelienople, Penn.
3. Team up for progress
“Millennials are the first to jump on projects and to take up new initiatives or to bring new initiatives to the workplace,” Tutor says. “They will need the help of a team to complete the project, but when they wrap their arms around something, they are committed to it.” Tofanelli agrees that his millennial staffers are known for embracing change, especially compared to older generations. “This helps us keep driving the business to new areas that we may never have tried before,” he says.
4. Value today’s contributions
“This generation has many more interests, so they aren’t typically in the foodservice department long-term,” Tofanelli says. “I understand that I may just be a stepping stone for them. If you have this attitude, it’s easier to appreciate what they have to offer, not worry about when they are going to leave.”
5. Look beyond the ‘lazy’ label
“Entitled” and “lazy” are two common descriptions for the millennial generation that are often not true in practice. “I have a lot of employees who are in their early 20s that go to college,” Tofanelli says. “So they are working 15 to 20 hours a week for me, and then carrying a college schedule—so, if anything, it is the opposite.”
Tutor adds, “I think it is necessary to recognize that not everybody in a particular generation acts like everyone else, but I would have to admit that this has been a challenging generation at times to commit to work,” she says. “This is a very grateful generation, though; each day we are surprised at how much appreciation is shown by them.”