What is Different about Managing Millennial Employees

Portrait of smiling business colleagues
Millennials passed Generation X in the first quarter of 2015 to become the largest share of the American workforce, according to the Pew Research Center’s analysis. They represent 34% of the total workforce in the U.S. Millennials are defined as those individuals who were born between 1981 and 1997, which makes them between 19 and 34 years of age – a prime employment age. There are approximately 53.5 million millennials in the U.S.

The size of the millennial workforce itself is a force to be reckoned with, but in addition to size, their style of working also poses challenges for the business leaders who are no familiar with this generation. This generation is not like their parents. They value different things in life. They have their own ideas about how business should be conducted and they have their unique working style. All these factors combine to make it seem like today’s business leader will never be able to manage them well.

However, by understanding the values and working style of this generation business leaders are able to lead them better and offer them what they want from the employment to get the most out of them at the workplace. Let’s look at what millennials value from their employment.


For millennials the purpose of a business is bigger than just to make money. They want the company they work for put emphasis on the local community and the world. “Millennial workers are more likely to look for meaning and impact in their work and aren’t satisfied simply punching a clock,” writes Forbes contributor Jenna Goudreau.

Millennials are not just interested in punching time clock every day. They want the whole meaning in the work and make contribution to the world while earning money. They see the big picture and consider the company they work for part of a bigger eco-system.

Work-Life Balance

Compared to their parents, millennials put more emphasis on work-life balance. They saw their parents drudge along and spend countless hours at work in search of climbing the corporate ladder, often at the sacrifice of their family. They also experienced the consequences of corporate downsizing when those same parents were let go at a moment’s notice despite all their sacrifices. Millennials do not want to be in the same situation. They would rather enjoy their life while working and have a decent work-life balance.

Business leaders will do well by catering to their desire for work-life balance. Tech-savvy millennials are able to work anytime from anywhere, so managers can offer telecommuting and flexible scheduling to workers who consistently perform. Millennials crave flexibility in where, when and how they work.


Millennials also want to be strong leaders as they rise through the ranks in the corporation. They want to be in those leadership position fast to be able to make an immediate impact. Sixty-three percent of millennials surveyed by Deloitte say their “leadership skills are not being fully developed,” and many millennials intending to leave their current employer feel that they are overlooked for leadership positions.

Recognizing what millennials value is important for business leaders and managers. Millennials are important contributors to the workplace whether the leaders like their working style or not. In few years they are the ones who will be “running the show” in many businesses so it is important to understand their desires and values and make appropriate changes.


About the Author

Implementing changes in the workplace can lead to a happier, more engaged corporate culture. Aurora University’s online MBA helps students learn the skills and knowledge necessary to manage employees and meet their needs. Graduates benefit from a deep understanding of current business practices in leadership, marketing, finance and more.