Talent Connection Blog

Many conversations about the generation gap feel antagonistic: millennials lack focus, Generation X is stodgy and non-malleable, etc. Even recently, the long-running reality TV show, Survivor, made its theme Millennials vs. Gen X, showing the public interest in the rivalry.

Regardless, Talexes and our partners believe that the generational divide and its differences are more than worth conquering through employee assessments and employee engagement.

Millennials are the largest group in the current workforce, so it’s now a matter of when and how you engage them, rather than if your methods can survive new ways of thinking. There are many valuable tips Talexes can offer from our experience with employee assessments, but we will focus on one important one: respect.

What we’ve found to be true across generations is that employees want to feel valued and told they’re doing a good job. One way to make millennials feel discouraged, however, is to pigeonhole them into stereotypical behavior. They’ll shut down, whether in the interview, in their formative first days, or deep into their position with your company.

To keep them engaged, here are some topics to avoid, even jokingly, and ways to value these Millennial thought processes:

  • Millennials are entitled, trophy kids. The ones giving out those loathsome participation trophies were the older generations, so consider their need for appreciation as an easy way to endear them to your company. Employee assessments allow you to use more time when onboarding and connect them to your workplace, providing long-term engagement.
  • These kids and their phones! The obvious benefit of this is that younger generations have unmatched confidence with new technologies. Another overlooked perk is that even new employees want to feel like an expert at something. Get their opinions on new technology and let them inform the discussion; occasional collaboration strengthens employee relationships and work quality.
  • Millennials are easily discouraged because they expect fast results. We find this to be slightly off because we think it’s more accurate that Millennials are discouraged by methodologies but are still willing to work to eventually achieve the desired result. They have creative ways to attack old problems. If you need them to stick to a certain mindset, simply show where they fit in the process and they’ll use this multi-faceted approach to work within the structure.
  • Younger generations have poor work ethic. Millennials are shifting away from their jobs as a defining identity, which many see as lack of efficiency. Show them how their employment fits within their lifestyle and you’ll see much more engagement. Culture fit, something we can gauge in our pre-hire employee assessments, make sure organizational values line up with your employees’ goals.
  • Millennials don’t value experience. Contrary to popular belief, the new workforce thrives on experience. Millennials, perhaps as a result of entering the workforce in a difficult economy, are primed and ready to grow, develop, and get some valuable skills on their resumes. Engage with their interests and teach them new skills and you’ll see a reverence for experienced management figures.

Keep this gentle approach in mind when managing, training, and mentoring younger generations. After all, you’re the one with the thriving business so there is something you’re doing right. Mutual respect and engagement are key to moving forward.

Younger generations will have new ideas and opinions on even the most formerly sacrosanct business principles (the 40 hour work week, working from home, professional vs trendy marketing techniques, and many others). Engage these ideas respectfully, consider them with honesty, and respond in a way that highlights your values. Your most recent employee testing the boundaries of your business methods won’t be the last person to do so; there’s no reason not to have an intelligent, measured response to these common inquiries.

Schedule a free talent audit with Talexes to learn more about the benefits of employee assessments. We offer a range of assessments, whether you’re looking for management to handle new generations with panache or searching for entry and mid-level workers with fresh ideas that match personality-wise and qualification-wise.