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Humanizing Millennials

August 9, 2016

Every day it seems like I see a new article on Millennials – what they like, what to do to retain them or how to keep them happy. There is so much focus on Millennials (those aged 16 – 35) as they will comprise 50% of the workforce in just a few years. However, many of the stories of what to do or not to do are not unique to their generation. Today I saw an article on why Millennials hate meetings and how to make them better.


Great! We all want meetings to be better!

And that’s my point. I can’t think of anyone I know in the workforce – age 18 or age 80 – who like meetings. Meetings are generally not enjoyable. They are long, time-consuming and often not relevant to many of those attending.

 So, I’m thrilled someone finally wants to change how organizations do meetings. But, does it have to be for Millennials only? Can change occur because all workers don’t like meetings? It seems smarter for organizations to design cultures, including meetings, to work for everyone rather than just one segment of the workforce.

Another article I read claimed Millennials don’t like annual performance reviews. Again, who does like them? In my research on employee empowerment, annual performance reviews were often stated as a barrier to empowerment by ALL generations, not just Millennials. Some organizations do them well, but the majority of workers I’ve interviewed think performance reviews are not executed well and can often be meaningless. It is not about the generation of the worker as much as how well the organization ties it to performance measures, job descriptions and constant feedback (rather than just once a year).

In fact, my research suggests that all generations want the same things, Millennials just may be the ones to voice it.

Or it may vary slightly by generation in how it is realized,  but the basic concepts are the same. So why don’t organizations ask all employees what they do -or do not - like and make changes that impact 100% of the workforce rather than only the soon-to-be 50% Millennials?

Another example is micromanaging. I‘ve seen several articles in the last few weeks on why Millennials do not want to be micromanaged. Yet again, I do not know a single person of any age who desires to be micro-managed. In my research, micromanaging was the #1 barrier to feeling empowered. It does not matter if the worker is a Millennnial, Generation Xer, Baby Boomer or Traditionalist. And I’m guessing Generation Z (up to 16 years old) won’t want to be micro-managed either.

Instead of focusing on one generation, organizations should concentrate on what does or does not work well for all workers. Use engagement surveys, focus groups, whatever data the organization has or can get, and use that to find out what the common themes are across all generations. By humanizing Millennials to be regular workers, organizations can find solutions that make better cultures for all.

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We partner with clients to build a strategy for creating thriving workplaces by aligning culture to increase engagement and retention.


We help organizations set the vision for their culture and make it happen.