Businesses all over America are undergoing a sea change. The oldest members of Generation Z (the generation defined in a recent study as born between 1994 and 2010) are starting to enter the workforce. Meanwhile, Millennials are taking on management positions, and will play increasingly important managerial roles as some 3.6 million Baby Boomers retire this year.
Randstad and Future Workplace conducted a survey of Millennial and Generation Z employees and found that, while the majority of both generations believe their educations prepared them well for their current jobs, there are some important gaps. If you want to get the most from your younger employees, how can you help them improve? Here are seven steps to take.
Tips for Managing Young Employees
1. Set Expectations
Both during the interview stage and when bringing employees on board, make sure you set clear expectations and are honest about the culture at your business. One-third of Generation Z employees and 29 percent of Millennials say their education did not prepare them to work long hours, and one-fourth of Generation Z workers say it did not prepare them to manage their time effectively.
2. Provide Opportunities for Collaboration
Both generations of employees feel their educations prepared them well to work in teams. However, 29 percent of Generation Z employees say it didn’t prepare them to work with older people — a pretty important skill if you’re fresh out of college. Since project-based work is the number-one way Gen Z likes to learn new skills, try putting younger employees in teams with older workers so they gain experience in getting along with different generations. (Make sure the older workers are prepared and willing to provide some guidance to the younger ones.)
3. Educate Millennial Employees in Management and Conflict Resolution Skills
More than one-fourth of Millennials say their educations did not prepare them to manage others or resolve conflicts. These interpersonal skills are critical as Millennials move into managerial positions. Pair new Millennial managers with more experienced managers who can mentor them. (Both generations say mentoring and learning from peers are among their preferred ways to learn new skills.) You can also have new managers take courses in management skills, either online or off.
4. Communicate Often and Honestly
Both generations of employees say being a good communicator is the single most important quality a leader can have; honesty is the second. In addition, 39 percent of both Millennial and Gen Z workers say the most effective way to communicate is “in person.” In other words, you don’t have to text, IM or Snapchat to reach young workers — simply walk around and talk to them.
5. Provide Ongoing Feedback
Forty-six percent of both Millennials and Generation Z say providing quality feedback regularly is the best way to help them excel. Among the highest-performing companies in the survey, nearly one-third provide feedback to young workers on a regular basis (that is, after every project, assignment or task), and 22 percent provide daily feedback.
6. Design a Workspace that Enables Both Collaboration and Focus
Younger employees grew up collaborating on projects in school, and like working this way. In fact, they also prefer working in an office with others to working at home. However, an open, collaborative workspace isn’t always the most conducive to focus. Help younger employees focus better by setting up an office space that includes quiet areas for focused work.
7. Help Them Lessen Stress
Asked what factor most keeps them from performing their best, both generations cited stress as the number-one hurdle. Of course, you can’t eliminate stress at work, but you can help your young employees handle it better. Regularly review workloads so employees aren’t burdened with more than they can realistically handle. Suggest or teach time management strategies that can help with stress. Create a culture that encourages breaks and downtime in addition to hard work.
Taking the steps to help your young employees improve can pay off big. More than 80 percent of both Generation Z and Millennial employees want to take leadership roles at work. Start now, and you can shape the next generation of leaders to fit your business’s needs.
Young Employees Photo via Shutterstock