How is Your Small Business Managing Millennials in the Workplace?

How is Your Small Business Managing Millennials in the Workplace?

by on 22 Apr, 2015

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the American millennial population as of 2014 was 74.8 million, and is forecast to increase to 75.3 million in 2015. Millennials are expected to outnumber baby boomers by 2028, with the generation’s U.S. population peaking in 2036 at 81.1 million. According to these projections, your small business will likely employ an abundance of millennial workers in the years to come.

Many small businesses today that are hiring millennials find a difference in how millennials work compared to older employees. And, with millennials expected to comprise 75% of the global workforce within the next decade, this begs the question “How do you effectively lead and manage a millennial?”

What do millennials need from management?


1. Flat Organizational Structure

Millennials tend to prefer a culture where they feel as if they are working with you, instead of for you. They have a hard time conforming to hierarchical organizations of high- and mid-level management, as well as dealing with many layers of administration within the company.
Conversely, a flat organizational structure allows them to feel like they have a voice in the company. For managers and business owners, creating a flat organization elevates the responsibilities of employees and promotes employee engagement and involvement. 

Benefits of a flat organization include:

  • Feedback is garnered and decisions are made more quickly, as the majority of staff can get involved in the process.

  • More invested and involved employees want to do a good job and want to work harder for your company.

  • Young workers feel like they are being valued and their skills are being utilized. According to a survey conducted by Deloitte, only 28% of millennials feel like their organization is making full use of their skills.

2. Feedback

Today’s generation wants to know how they are performing in their jobs,  and usually welcome discussions on how they are doing and how they may be able to improve. Gone are the days when a conversation in the manager’s office meant an employee was in trouble. Millennial workers are typically hungry to grow and to learn, as well as anxious to receive constructive criticism that can help them change and make them eligible for raises, promotions and the like.

3. Technology

Millennials are the “always-connected” generation. After all, they’ve never known anything different. This is why millennials are so tech-savvy. This is also why they value having technology in their workplace. According to, a study indicated that 38% of 18-24 year olds found it frustrating that they had to waste time searching for documents that were not available through some form of technology. Keeping your organization up to date with technological innovations will play a major role in attracting and retaining millennial talent.

4. Work/Life Balance

For millennials, having a good balance between work life and non-work life is crucial. The opportunity to pursue passions is vital to a healthy, happy, and productive millennial employee. A survey conducted by Monitoring the Future showed that millennials value community, family, and creativity in their work. This is why millennials typically choose to work in professions that they love, rather than settle for any job that pays. In addition, most millennials appreciate flexibility in their schedule, with the ability to work a portion of their hours remotely considered a major plus.

How do I manage millennials?

Now that you know what millennials need from you, it’s time to dive into how you should be managing millennials in the workplace. 

1. Recruiting

When walking a millennial through the hiring process, communication is key. It’s important to clearly outline the skills required for the job, what day-to-day responsibilities will look like, the potential career advancement path within the company. The more information you can provide up front, the better.  

2. Learning

Millennials have a deep appreciation for learning new things and honing their skills. Teaching millennials the core functions of your business can help them understand company goals and structure, and will provide insights into how they can progress successfully.
A recent article by the Harvard Business review found that the top five things millennials wanted to learn are:

  • Technical skills in their area of expertise

  • Self-management and personal productivity

  • Leadership skills training

  • Industry and functional knowledge

  • Creativity and innovation strategies

For business owners, offering continued learning for your millennial staff is crucial to keeping them engaged. The time and money you invest in educating employees, no matter their age, can pay big dividends to your business in the long run. 

3. Motivation tools

Interestingly, money is not as important is you may think to this new breed of worker. Millennials place a high value on doing work that is fulfilling, appreciate having time and flexibility to pursue their passions, and are often motivated more by meaning and purpose than by monetary gain.
Incentives such as company-funded education, a flexible work schedule, the opportunity to work some or all of their hours remotely, a relaxed vacation policy and a casual dress code often help attract and retain millennial talent more so than the promise of a higher paycheck or full suite of employee benefits.

Some experts forecast that millennials will lead the global workforce as early as 2020. Perhaps it’s time for you, as a business owner, to reexamine your company culture to ensure you’re properly positioned to embrace the generation shift in the workplace that is already well underway.

For more tips on how to hire, manage and retain the best employees for your business, click here to connect with Navigate. We have decades of experience in human resources, and are here to serve as your trusted advisor in all things employee-related.

talk with tom


Subscribe to our blog!

We respect you and will never sell your information.

Got an HR question?
Schedule a free HR consultation with Tom!

Continue reading helpful HR articles from Tom.

20 Ways Navigate Helps Do Your Job

For over 40 years, Navigate has been helping Massachusetts companies achieve their HR and business goals. As the state’s premier HR outsourcing solution, Navigate works with.

Disclaimer: this article does not represent expert advice and is provided for informational purposes. Please get in touch if you would like expert HR advice.

More HR Articles
More HR Articles