These two young generations have a considerably different world view to their predecessors, but other them at your peril. Now making up around half of the workforce, bosses in all industries need to know how to manage millennial and Gen Z employees to get the best out of them.
So resist the urge to focus on your stereotypes and turn a blind eye to these dynamic cohorts — if you learn how to manage young teams through empathy and engagement, you could be reaping the rewards for years to come.
Prefer collaboration to individual work
Are tech savvy
Regularly switch between jobs
Demand a fair work-life balance
Being digital natives
Prioritizing diversity and inclusion
Looking for flexibility at work
Offer competitive salaries
Communicate in an open, transparent way
Respect your team’s work-life balance
Provide meaningful, useful perks
Support your team’s professional growth
Listen to ideas and concerns
Give clear instructions and constructive criticism
To kick things off, we’re going to offer insights into who we’re dealing with — you can’t manage millennial and Gen Z teams efficiently if you don’t know who they are.
This generation was full of optimism after the heady highs of the 80s and 90s. Unfortunately, this all came crashing down with the economic crisis of 2007-2008, right when so many millennials were just entering the workplace.
Since then they’ve seen the value of everything skyrocket — except their value to the job market. Therefore, trying to manage millennials at work can be hard. Exhausted from unpaid internships, low wages, and a lack of job security, they tend to look towards hustle culture to make ends meet. This has led to a huge rate of burnout which simply was not as common in workplaces at the end of the 20th century.
With a lack of faith in companies, millennials are more likely to jump ship when things get tough and to demand more from their employers beyond a salary — a drastic change from Gen X.
Despite not working through the depression of the financial crash of 2007-2008, the world of work has hardly been an easy ride for Gen Z workers. With huge social movements, a global pandemic, and the ever-present threat of climate change, feeling constantly stressed and helpless is quite an understandable response.
By growing up in a worldwide recession, their parents didn’t pass on a feeling of optimism in the same way that millennials’ parents did. Instead, they saw a world of job insecurity that has led them to see stability as a good thing. Having said that, they are driven to switch roles frequently and take on extra roles and tasks outside of their regular responsibilities.
As the first generation to have grown up with digital technology all around them, they see it as an essential part of life, and by extension, an essential part of work.
Now you’ve got an idea of who you’re dealing with, we’ll move on to how to manage them.
Let’s start at the beginning — your onboarding process. With what technology can offer now, there’s no real excuse for dumping a stack of pages on their desk and expecting them to read through it. Apart from being an environmental nightmare, there are simply far better ways of welcoming a new recruit on board.
Throw together a few interactive presentations with infographics and video content to introduce new hires to your team, and store them in your intranet. This can work for both onboarding and even hiring and is the kind of practice your marketing team should already be using in their outward-facing content.
Now you may be wondering where to start with this kind of material. What better time to pick your current young minds and give them a bit of responsibility along the way?
In the case of all Gen Z teams, and almost all millennial ones, their apps are almost an extension of themselves. Whether it's a shopping list, online banking, or health and fitness, if there is an app to make something easier, your young employees will probably have it.
So, when you have to manage millennial and Gen Z teams, you need to be on top of ways to improve efficiency with technology — and if that's not your forte, at least be receptive to new ideas. Yes, this is a micromanager's nightmare, but drawing on your team's technical know-how is certainly no weakness. You can speed up your processes, motivate your team, and give them a sense of responsibility.
A great example of these innovations are cloud-based storage, automations in your workflows, and notifications across all your devices. A good place to start is with a business tool like Bitrix24, which takes care of all your day-to-day needs at a level GenZ teams expect.
With every new generation comes new ways of working and it’s best to move with the trends. This means you simply have to manage millennial and Gen Z teams while respecting their independence. Allowing young workers to have some autonomy over how they work is more likely to be repaid with effort and loyalty, as opposed to a micromanagement approach which is sure to alienate you from your staff.
It’s also a good piece of advice to remember that these two generations aren’t the same phenomenon.
If you manage millennials at work, they’re likely to want some freedom in their schedule, perhaps with flexible hours. Of course, with great freedom comes great responsibility, so think about time tracking software to make sure things don’t get out of hand.
On the contrary, Generation Z likes a bit more structure in their days, but you can still offer freedoms and responsibility in their tasks to show your trust and give them that confidence boost.
Young people have resolutely rejected the idea that employees are lemons to be squeezed for all the juice possible. With the burnout crisis we mentioned earlier, people who manage millennial and Gen Z teams need to allow for self-care when necessary.
Half the battle here is simply understanding the feeling of burnout — what are their symptoms and what is causing them. Sure, you’re not a qualified psychologist, but simply listening to your team empathetically can be a massive boost to morale.
Similarly, with the effects of the pandemic clear for all to see, more and more companies are turning to counseling and psychological help for their staff. Aside from the obvious benefits for the individual, companies benefit as a whole from a team with good mental health and a sense of value to the company.
The COVID-19 pandemic put working procedures under the microscope and the general consensus is that nobody is in a hurry to return to how things were before. Two hours traveling to and from work only to get home and find a string of emails from your boss has become intolerable, so when you manage millennial and Gen Z teams, you have to be aware of their work-life balance.
Allow them to enjoy their time away from the office, and offer remote work wherever possible. Don’t worry about losing control, you can always set up morning stand-up meetings via a video call and track progress on your project management software without being overbearing.
When you manage millennial and Gen Z teams, you're dealing with people who question authority and won't respond well to instructions that have no clear reason.
As a manager, you can see this as a positive — something to help you set tasks that justifiably work towards your goals. Make sure to be consistent with your instructions in your task management tool, perhaps with subtasks to check off, and you'll find things run more smoothly.
You don’t need to make any massive modifications to your daily tasks to start implementing this change. For example, when setting up tasks in your project management software, you can draw on templates that include everything you need.
Whatever it is you need to manage, Bitrix24 will manage it for you.
You might write off feeling “seen and heard” as a couple of new buzzwords that aren’t worth worrying about, but when you manage millennial and Gen Z employees, you’ll soon become aware that they want to contribute.
Just like offering opportunities for growth, listening to a variety of points of view isn’t just playing lip service to inclusivity. No matter how much experience you have as a manager, there will always be room for improvement if your eyes and ears are open.
However, this point goes further than just looking for new ways to innovate. By creating an accommodating workplace, you’re in a good position to attract the best talent. We’re not saying you should bow to every pressure put on you by your young workforce, but listening to, and respecting, their ideas and concerns will help reduce your turnover and increase happiness at work.
With what they've been shown of the work of work, it's no wonder young teams have a general mistrust of the companies they work for. They can see straight through promises like "we're a family here" and won't be tempted into loyalty through pizza, even if it's plant-based.
However, you can earn the trust of your team by investing in their professional development. At one-to-one meetings, discuss what direction they'd like to take in their career and look into providing training to them. A huge motivator, training can also help you as a manager navigate new ideas that you may not have already thought of, such as how to implement artificial intelligence and machine learning into your daily processes.
By throwing out the jargon dictionary and offering solid, tangible support, you can manage millennial and Gen Z teams so that they feel valued and secure in their role, which can improve motivation and loyalty.
We’ve all seen companies who beef up their marketing by outwardly supporting social movements, but a surface-level belief won’t wash when you manage millennial and Gen Z teams.
Young people nowadays aren’t satisfied with simply making money. They want to feel that the company is helping to move society forward and that what they’re doing is geared towards a greater good. Many companies now even audit their own company culture to make sure they practice what they preach.
When you manage millennial teams, and especially their Gen Z counterparts, be sure to make them aware of the impact their job is having. However, it’s important not to be disingenuous if their job doesn’t really contribute. These workers will quickly suss out if they’re being lied to, so be honest and transparent, and while their job might not help the greater good, you can show the impact it has within the company at least.
While some bosses may see their intolerance of intolerance as overly demanding, a better way to manage millennial and Gen Z teams is to not fight against the wave of social change that is happening. Diversity in the workplace is long overdue and fast becoming an essential part of any forward-thinking workplace, and companies with a reputation for unfair treatment of their employees are going the way of the dinosaurs with a hugely reduced pool of talent to choose from.
Gen Z workers see diversity as an essential part of every workplace, and if you’re from a generation that doesn’t see it as an issue, it’s time to start reading up.
Anonymous internal surveys are a great way of gauging your progress in this area, as well as uncovering any issues that staff may not feel comfortable bringing up outside of a confidential setting. As well as removing any underlying toxicity from your workplace, being eager to improve the diversity of your workforce will lead to a lower turnover of millennials and Gen Z workers.
Now you’ve understood our 10 tips to manage millennial and Gen Z teams efficiently, it’s time to start putting what you’ve learned into practice. Luckily, you’re not alone in making your changes!
Bitrix24 offers 360-degree business tools, covering project management, calendars, communication, HR, a CRM, and so much more. The best bit? You can sign up for free today and use all kinds of tech solutions to help manage young teams.