The Millennials are here. With their oldest members turning 30, they’re entering the workplace by storm. Today, Millennials make up about 25% of American workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. By 2020, that number will grow to more than 40%.1
Also known as Gen Y and broadly defined as those born in the 1980s and 1990s, Millennials have been stereotyped with qualities that may have some employers wary: they’re needy and entitled, have short attention spans and spend their days texting and on social media. They have high expectations and want what they want now.
Like all generations, the Millennials are a product of their time. They grew up in a world of economic abundance, doting parents, technology and instant gratification. While stereotypes may hold some truth, they’re only part of the story.
“In my experience working with and studying Millennials for the past eight years, I've found a large majority of them to be amazingly optimistic, innovative and courageous,” says Lindsey Pollak, a nationally recognized expert on Millennials who is partnering with The Hartford to share workplace trends. “There are a lot of things about them that are significant to the business world.”
Think tech-savvy, eager, collaborative and resourceful. They’re willing to speak their minds and are big on communication. They’re also self-starters, entrepreneurial in spirit, and can bring new perspectives to old ways of doing things. In short, Millennials can breathe fresh life into your small business.
Recent studies indicate that Millennials favor smaller businesses. According to a 2012 report by Payscale, 47% of Millennials in the workforce are employed by small businesses of 100 or fewer employees and 30% for businesses of 100-500 employees. Only 23% work for larger companies, according to Payscale’s “Gen Y on the Job” report, and many are entrepreneurs.
Smaller organizations present opportunities of value to Millennials, such as broader roles with varied responsibilities and a more relaxed working environment. The more Millennials find of value in their chosen workplace, the more they’ll be likely to contribute. And that means greater potential for your small business.
Here are ways you can cultivate a workplace environment that will bring out the best in your Millennial employees – and the rest of your team will probably benefit, too.
The Millennials are entering a workforce dominated by Baby Boomers with Gen X sandwiched in between. With many Baby Boomers deferring retirement, all three generations will be sharing workspace in the American workforce for quite a while. Conflict is likely.
As the boss, you can instill values that help bring out the best that each generation has to offer. Encourage and reward cooperation, open-mindedness and teamwork. Help your employees understand their differences and build a common ground for working together. The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) offers resources on conflict and generations in the workplace that you may find helpful.
The generations have much to learn from one another but truth is, Boomers may be the ones called upon to extend themselves. Millennials – with their need for communication, willingness to collaborate and focus on teamwork – bring many qualities to the workplace that can change it for the better.
1 Labor Force Projections to 2020, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2012
Lindsey Pollak is a paid spokesperson for The Hartford.
Employee benefits underwritten by Hartford Life Insurance Company and Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company. Policies sold in New York are underwritten by Hartford Life Insurance Company. Home Office of both companies is Simsbury, CT.
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