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Managing Millennials: Three Common Mistakes

3 common mistakes managing millennials

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed as a young professional in their 20’s.

The mid/late 20’s is a hard time for young professionals. It is that unknown, in-between phase in your career where you’ve learned too much to settle for an entry-level position but you know you aren’t yet deserving of an assistant and corner office.

It’s that time in your career when you want to hustle, but strive for an organization that makes the hustle a pleasure, not a burden.

Seeing as how this is an overwhelming and challenging time in a young professionals career, it makes the job of leading, engaging and retaining these individuals a truly difficult task for employers.

Through my experience working at different organizations, I’ve found three common mistakes that companies make which serve to defeat and deflate the level of passion and commitment that millennials feel towards their organization:

  • Ignore our ideas: millennials are eager to share and contribute their ideas to the bigger picture. More importantly, they are eager to be heard. Even if our ideas might be not be realistic due to budget constraints or other factors, we like to know that they are at least listened to and valued. Millennials thrive off of knowing that their creativity is appreciated. Similarly, millennials thrive off of collaboration. If our ideas are shot down, we want to know why. We use failures and criticism as opportunities to learn and grow, therefore we value the supervisor that is willing to explain why our ideas aren’t feasible to implement. We’re okay with hearing the “no,” so long as we hear the “why.”


  • Focus only on salary: there’s no doubt that everyone values their paycheck. It’s what millennials use to pay back the mountain of student loans we have.  However, salary is hardly a make or break for millennials. Millennials are focused on the overall package. We want to work for a company that will provide us with opportunities to grow and move up, getting increasing responsibility. We value feedback and performance reviews, as we use them as experiences to learn and improve. Similarly, since some of us are just starting to utilize the benefits plan offered by our employers (because we have hit the age range for which we can no longer stay on our parents’ health insurance plan,) we want to know what the benefits look like: am I given short and long term disability? How much does my health insurance cost out of my paycheck? Is there a 401k? Is it matched? How big is the “in-network” group of providers? The days of accepting an offer solely based on the salary are over. Millennials are looking not just for a paycheck, but a package that meets their needs.


  • Set strict hours: there’s no quicker way to turn off a millennial employee than by setting strict hours. Millennials thrive off of flexibility and trust that they’ll get the job done. Since we are used to working “on the go,” relying and utilizing our smart phones more often than our laptops, we value the ability to work remotely when appropriate. In order to keep us engaged and dedicated, we need to feel like our work-life balance is taken into consideration. We thrive under a boss who freely lets us leave the office for a doctor’s appointment, knowing we’ll make up the hours later. We applaud the CEO that tells us to work from home when it’s too snowy to drive safely into the office. The more faith we are given in our ability to maintain our work-life balance while still getting our jobs done, the more motivated we are to go above and beyond the call of duty.

While the above are just three small things, my goal in writing this post is to speak to a bigger problem which is the disconnect that exists between what millennials really want and what employers think they want.

I can only speak for myself when I say that a treadmill desk and an office dog are not the “perks” that I’m looking for; that’s not what motivates me in my place of work.

What motivates me to work hard, and what keeps me dedicated to my organization, is having the opportunity to work alongside a team that values my ideas, a boss that provides me with timely and constructive feedback and an organization that values my work-life balance.

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