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How to Distinguish and Cater to Old & Young Millennials in the Workforce

Millennials

Older Millennials

Many older millennials have been in the workforce for 10+ years.  This means that they not only have a good amount of work experience, but many are now in management roles. They are likely to be managing their younger millennial counterparts and the first of the Gen Z workers, but they may also be in a position overseeing employees older than themselves. This may be a particular challenge for ‘green’ millennial managers. According to a Harvard Business Review Study, older employees often struggle with taking direction from younger individuals because they tend to view the younger boss as lacking ‘real world experience.’ Also in question is the scope of knowledge and experience of a millennial manager. New managers will need to take the time to understand generational differences. For example, while some employees prefer a quick email or text to complete a task, an employee of an older generation may require a face-to-face conversation. To ensure your millennial managers have success as team leaders, your organization may need to implement training and mentorship programs. Every year, more millennials will be ascending into leadership roles, and with a solid preparation plan you can arm them with the skills that will help garner respect from their subordinates – regardless of age group.

Younger Millennials

If you were born at the tail end of the 90's or the turn of the 21st century, your world has never been without the domination of the Internet or to a certain extent, the smartphone. Some younger millennials do not remember a time when childhood interaction didn’t include some sort of online dimension. For the workplace, this means things like phone calls, voice messages, and paper memos are at best an annoyance and at worst a complete waste of time. Obviously, this means that when catering to younger millennials, digital communication, using the latest tools/apps, must be the focus. Perhaps the most important, and well-studied difference when it comes to younger millennials is the impact of the Financial Crisis of 2008. Because of this trauma, many studies point out that younger millennials aren't big risk-takers or extravagant spenders. When combined with their commitment to community over commerce, they will not be motivated like older millennials, Generation X, or baby boomers. Therefore, it is a good idea to focus less on material success and more on helping them fulfill both their potential and their purpose. You can do this with mentorship programs and continuing education opportunities.

Overall

While both older and younger millennials have some distinct qualities and habits, some basics will help you communicate and manage both subgroups. 24 Seven Talent suggests that you offer all millennials:

  • Plenty of immediate feedback and encouragement

  • Flexible hours

  • Educational opportunities

  • A strong company vision

  • An emphasis on community outreach and social equality

Perhaps the biggest takeaway is a focus on listening. Listen to what both older and younger millennials have to say, and try to ignore stereotypes. If you want to learn even more about catering to both older and younger millennials, we suggest you check out 24 Seven Talent's helpful position paper, "Talking ‘Bout Their Generation: Millennials in The Workplace".