Millennials in the Workplace

Not too long ago we wrote an article addressing the plethora of ‘generational’ buzz.  The article entitled, Generation What? broke down the most commonly identified groups and recapped a bit about each including age range, buying habits and their most defining attributes.

We heard from many of you in response with questions and comments and even stories to share specifically regarding ‘Millennials’.   But overall it came down to this, “What is the key to employing and managing this Millennial Generation?”    The first step is to understand them and their motivations.  When you understand what motivates your employees, you are better able to set mutual expectations for success. 

The Millennials…

To recap, millennial’s age is defined as 13-37.  Unfortunately, they are also referred to as the “entitled generation.” They were raised in a manner where everyone was a winner.  This no doubt has a huge influence on what they are looking for in a job position and employer and certainly dictates how you manage.


…want to make a difference.
On a positive note, this generation is also focused on giving back.  Whether they are actually putting effort in or they are part of a larger organization and purely seek the association.  Perhaps you are familiar with companies such as: ME to WE … the purchase of a bracelet, purse, backpack or school supplies “gives a life-changing gift to a child or family in WE charity partner communities, from school supplies to health care to alternative income opportunities and more.”  The popular Lokai bracelet carrying water from Mount Everest and mud from the Dead Sea - the highest and lowest places on Earth - represents the desire to “Find Your Balance”, every purchase made gives 10% to partner charities such as Make a Wish, Charity Water, Save the Children, Susan G. Komen and many others.  These are just a few examples of the rise in such philanthropic outreaches to give back and make a difference by making a purchase.  These companies while selling a retail product are often successful not because of the product but because of the personal fulfilment of ‘making a difference’ it offers the buyer.  Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook while addressing Harvard grads this week said, “It’s all about making a difference and being a part of something bigger than yourself.” This is an overwhelming attitude amongst millennials.   It may be beneficial for you to seek out manufacturers at upcoming trade shows that are partnering with charitable organizations.  This type of vendor relationship may help you gain the attention of millennial employees as well as customers.


…are hard-workers when motivated properly.
In 2015, millennials became the most populous workforce demographic in the U.S.  As the largest generation ever, they will have a major influence on the workplace and society for decades to come.  This group which is 80 million strong grew up with the internet, their lives are digitally based and they are adept at multitasking.  They are inspired by project based activities looking for that sense of completion and acknowledgement in being the ‘winner’ once again.  They become easily bored if not consistently challenged.  There could not be better news for an employer – if properly managed these individuals are ready to take on multiple projects and run with them!


…need you to understand them.
If you are going to employ millennials, then your company culture must suit their needs – you cannot expect them to remake themselves to mold to your organization (this is more than an attitude -  it is their way of life).  Good news is there is much room for common ground, initiative and growth.  Remember, this sector of the market is not only your employee but your customer as well.  To reach your changing customer base, you must reach your staff first.

Being part of something bigger rolls directly into work expectations.  Millennials seek to find purpose; they are usually content to work alone but are also great collaborators and appreciate working as a team.  Your company’s culture will have a direct impact on your company’s success.  For this reason, you should proactively build a culture that upholds your organization’s values and proclaims a strong defined mission statement.  One of the most critical steps you can take is involving your staff.  Make the time for store meetings---sharing your plans and goals and seeking their input.  This gives everyone the big picture, calls for teamwork and builds creativity and cohesiveness.

Millennials want to be leaders -  some seek a “career path” and others view their work as “what they must do between days off” (this later attitude is more pronounced the younger the employee). In either case they thrive on solid leadership and mentorship, encouragement with a “can-do” attitude and clearly stated goals. Specific tasks are essential in a jewelry store and everyone needs their personal list of responsibilities. You should encourage creativity as well - cultivating new ways of merchandising, advertising, lines to buy and reaching consumers in your marketplace.

Millenniums, like everyone, want to enjoy their workplace, the work itself and their co-workers.  Recognizing the differences in our generations is the first step to creating a cohesive, productive, and enjoyable workplace.  We encourage you to assign a few tasks, offer up some freedoms allowing employees to find community-give-back opportunities and embrace them together.  It will be good for morale, your customers and community, not to mention the bottom line.