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Secrets to Managing Millennials ... and Gen Z!

Attracting and retaining talent is a priority for any business. For years, companies have focused on managing Millennials. Now a new generation is entering adulthood — and they are joining the workforce by the millions.

The birth years that define a generation differ slightly from one source to another. Pew Research Center defines Millennials, aka Gen Y, as anyone born from 1981 to 1996. In 2018, the oldest Millennials were 37, the youngest 22. Anyone born after 1996 is part of the post-millennial generation, Gen Z.

Millennials are the largest generation in today's workforce. But Gen Z outnumbers them overall, making up over 25 percent of the U.S. population. To capitalize on what these generations bring to the workplace, managers need to understand who they are and what they value.

Managing Millennials

Millennials have a reputation for job-hopping. A survey of over 10,000 Millennials found that 43 percent expected to leave their jobs within two years. Here are three tips to encourage Millennial retention:

  1. Address Stress: Burnout is a big problem. Gallup found that a majority of Millennials feel burned out at work, making them three times more likely to leave. To reduce burnout:
  • Invite employees to share work-related concerns. Offer meaningful feedback.
  • Show employees how their contributions make a difference.
  • Encourage ownership by building independence and choice into task completion.
  1. Cultivate Career Development: Job-hopping may be the norm, but nearly 90 percent of Millennials would prefer to stay with their current employer. According to Gallup, Millennials value learning and growth over money. Annual reviews are not enough. Managers need to schedule frequent conversations about career goals and provide opportunities for development.
  2. Prepare Millennial Managers: Millennials are moving into management, and that may mean leading teams with experience that spans five, even six, decades. Coaching goes a long way in helping them develop required skills, including communication, to lead multi-generational teams.

Managing Gen Z

Diversity is a defining characteristic of Millennials. But Gen Z is the most diverse generation yet. For the first time, children from minority races or ethnic groups are the majority. Technology also sets Gen Z apart. Post-millennials, known as digital natives, were born into a world with smartphones, the IoT and social media.

When it comes to job-hopping, Gen Z is even less loyal than Millennials. Over 60 percent would leave within two years for the right opportunity. Three strategies for managing Gen Zs follow:

  1. Promote a Sense of Purpose: This socially conscious generation wants employers to engage in doing good. "Volunteer time off" (VTO) is one way to give back. Volunteering is linked to lower levels of stress — good for employee engagement and retention.
  2. Emphasize Equality: Gen Z values diversity and expects employers to prioritize equality. Take under-representation of women in leadership: Pairing young women with mentors in leadership positions can help them envision themselves in senior roles.
  3. Develop Soft Skills: Gen Zs are tech-savvy, but reliance on technology can impede communication and interpersonal skills. Young staffers, for instance, may prefer texting to talking. Coaching them to recognize when digital communication is appropriate and when it is time to pick up the phone can help them be more effective in the workplace. Use roleplay to build confidence in verbal communication, such as developing rapport with customers.

The more managers understand Gen Zs and Millennials, the better they'll be at leveraging the strengths of each group. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) can equip managers with the tools they need to lead across generations.

The online MBA at Boise State University, for example, provides a solid business foundation while developing skills in group dynamics, motivation, coaching and more. Millennials make up most of the workforce and Gen Z is right behind. Managers need to adapt to keep their organizations moving forward.

Learn more about the Boise State online MBA program.


Pew Research Center: Defining Generations: Where Millennials End and Post-Millennials Begin

Center for American Progress: The 9/11 Generation

Deloitte: The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2018

Gallup: Millennials Are Burning Out

PR Newswire: Millennials Are Most Likely to Stay Loyal to Jobs With Development Opportunities

Gallup: Why Your Best Millennials Will Leave, and How to Keep Them

United States Census Bureau: Millennials Outnumber Baby Boomers and Are Far More Diverse, Census Bureau Reports

United Healthcare: Doing Good Is Good for You

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