5 Ways to Turn Millennials off at Work

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Promoting a healthy and sustainable work culture is more important now than ever. With the infusion of multiple generations in the workplace, it is almost unavoidable to face the different values and opinions among employees. In particular, millennials maintain an unapologetic, no-nonsense attitude that other generations would not even imagine their lips to muster.

As the hustle and bustle of the workplace progresses, it is often that common practices that affect millennials are overlooked or underestimated. The average millennial is projected to have more than five jobs in their 20s and it is possible that we can blame this turn-over on five ways that can turn a millennial completely off in the workplace.

1) Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can pierce my confidence.

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Report to. Superior. Mandatory. You’ve heard them. Nine times out of 10, you’ve probably said them. Wash your mouth and cleanse control words from your vocabulary as they are a one-way ticket to an unhappy millennial. Despite using words like “report to” since the beginning of time, the tone of these words can leave one feeling slighted.

What you can do: Regardless where a millennial falls on the organization chart, he or she wants to be comfortable around their peers and “superiors.” Millennials may likely prove to be better employees if equality is promoted in the workplace rather than the authority over others. Of course there are restrictions that prevent millennials from having the same permissions as their managers, but, in the long run, millennials will be appreciative if verbal language carries a tone that shows that they are valued and equal in the workplace – regardless of their status.

2) Transparency? What’s that?

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Endless unexpected changes in the workplace are enough to make a millennial feel uneasy about their position. When major decisions are made that affect the body of an organization without seeking the opinion of employees, a level of distrust is developed.

What you can do: Transparency is the glue that holds an organization together. Involve your millennial (boomers and Gen X) employees in major decisions. Although you cannot please everyone, it is important to promote consistent written and/or verbal communication that outlines decisions and how it can affect your workforce. No matter how critical a decision, it should be important to display respect to the individuals that help keep your business alive.

3) There’s not exactly a welcome mat for ideas in a meeting.

Business Team Signing Contract

When ideas are abrasively rejected without reason or with no opportunity to be explained, millennials become discouraged and eventually disengaged. This practice is often found in team meetings or 1:1 discussions.

What you can do: If you are in an organization that values collaboration, ensure that your millennial employees have the platform to be heard. Maintain an open mind and reroute potentially negative comments into thought provoking questions that help a millennial see your point of view through his or her’s own discovery. Although a millennial’s game-changing idea may not be the best option for the moment, use language that cultivate a deeper sense of critical thinking or risk critically conditioning a millennial’s mind to associate participating in team discussions or one-on-one’s as a negative activity. Of course, there is always the option to listen thoroughly and carefully – they may have something valuable to say.

4) Making Millennials feel under challenged and undervalued.

Businessman watching television

When you give millennials tasks that are below their skillset, boredom can and will take over their ability to focus. Like any other generation, the millennial wants to succeed and prove his or her value. Constantly asking a millennial to complete tasks that you know that he or she is more than competent of fulfilling can eventually become a problem.

What you can do: Millennials desire to be a part of something. Regardless if your organization’s mission is to sale or serve, millennials have an unyielding desire to make a contribution that fulfills the burning passion in their hearts. Gauge the strengths that millennials bring to your organization by understanding what they like to do and how they can contribute in a way that makes them feel like a purpose exists within your organization.

5) Providing unbalanced feedback…or worse, no feedback at all.

Young Woman Thinking

Millennials may begin to think about jumping ship when feedback on their performance is neglected. If managers do not provide feedback, it can make millennials feel on the edge and hinder their professional confidence. On the other hand, if managers are giving unbalanced feedback it can either a) blindside a millennial into thinking his or her performance is stellar and contains no flaws or b) create a negative perception of a millennial’s abilities and create feelings of feeling stagnate with no room for growth.

What you can do: Ensure that you provide your criticisms constructively. If you have negative dispositions toward a millennial’s performance, be sure to help actively brainstorm with the employee to come up with realistic resolutions. Always add positive feedback and compliment a millennial employee outside of evaluation time. If you have neglected to give feedback up to this point, open the means of evaluation as a two way street between you and the employee. Provide them an opportunity to express what they need from you and allow them to evaluate your style.

If you’re a millennial, what turns you off in the workplace? Tweet me at @TheWriteGirl_, let’s talk about it over 140 characters!

Whitney L. Barkley is a millennial who believes that millennials are changing the scope of the workplace. The rest of the generations just need to catch up! For more career ramblings, check her out here.


One thought on “5 Ways to Turn Millennials off at Work

  1. Great post! I just did a training on understanding millennials and what they can offer to the workplace and ironically enough most of the managers were millennials too. The points you touch on here are very important and all leaders need to be aware of these points in order to help the greater organization win

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