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Create a Work Environment that “Works” for Millennials

Being born in 1982, I remember what it was like before the explosion of the internet. I still recall the first email I sent on AOL, how chat rooms were a new and exciting phenomenon, and chatting with high school and college friends on Instant Messanger long before texting became the norm. I graduated college pre-Facebook, but that didn’t mean that the ability stay in touch with friends near and far didn’t capture my attention (and a LOT of my free time) once I joined the social network.

I’ve read a number of articles that point out how Millennials (generally considered to be the generation born between 1980 – 2000) have a strong desire to make a difference and do something that matters. Overall, the biggest challenge that many upper-level, non-millennial managers have within organizations is simply understanding what drives Millennials to work hard and how to provide an environment that will keep these individuals engaged.

Millennials were raised on technology.

For many, their college, high school, and even grade school papers were likely researched on a computer instead of at a library. This generation is used to having instantaneous access to other individuals as well as an expansive amount of information – meaning they know how to take copious amounts of raw information, digest it and make sense of it – often by discussing it with others. Millennials enjoy working in teams, value a fun work atmosphere and have a desire to become friends with coworkers.

Millennials’ upbringing – often structured, activity-filled and social – means that “connectedness” to information and others is an ingrained attribute, a way of life.

Millennials don’t think twice about answering personal email during work-time or answering a work email during personal time. To them, it’s not about work-life balance but work-life blend and and trying to put up boundaries that might disrupt this harmony could end up backfiring on an employer or manager.

Millennials want autonomy and collaboration all at the same time.

They want structure, leadership and frequent feedback to improve, but they also want to be heard, respected and see that their contribution is making an impact. Overall, it’s important to create an environment that “works” for Millennials. You must lead, not manage, this new breed of employee who will soon become the majority of the workforce.

For more tips on managing and leading Millennials check out the links below: