Millennials Find Difficulties In Managing Older Workforce

November 30, 2015 – A growing number of Millennials are managing Gen X and Baby Boomer professionals, according to ‘The Multi-Generational Leadership’ report, conducted by executive development firm Future Workplace and career network Beyond. According to the survey’s 5,771 respondents, this shift in leadership could be harmful to a company’s work environment.

The survey found that 83 percent of respondents have seen Millennials managing Gen X and Baby Boomers in their office. However, 45 percent of Baby Boomers and Gen X respondents feel that Millennials’ lack of managerial experience could have a negative impact on a company’s culture. Over one-third of Millennial respondents said that it’s difficult managing older generations.

“As more Baby Boomers retire, Millennials are moving into leadership positions and are faced with managing older generations, which they were never trained to do,” said Dan Schawbel, partner and research director at Future Workplace“Millennials need to respect and support the needs and careers of Gen X and Baby Boomers if they want to learn, develop and eventually become the executives corporate America requires to move forward.”

While 44 percent of Millennial respondents view themselves as being the most capable generation to lead in the workplace, only 14 percent of all survey respondents agree with this sentiment. Fifty-one percent of all respondents feel that Gen X employees are the most capable generation to lead organizations.

The survey also found that there is a need for ongoing mentorship and coaching to deepen Millennial leadership skills.

“Today, the vast majority of a company’s training budget is spent on formal training programs,” said Dale Zupsansky, managing editor at Hunt Scanlon Media. “What is needed is more informal learning and development, mentoring & coaching and access to self-directed learning.”

While 89 percent of survey respondents said that building strong leadership skills is important to them, only 47 percent of them work for companies that have a formal mentorship program to support their leadership development.


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According to research released by Pinpoint Market Research and Anderson Jones PRMillennials are most attracted by companies that place premiums on career development, whether it’s a focus on mentorship or providing continued training or education opportunities. Companies that provide these options for career growth may be more likely to attract and keep millennials for the long haul.

“Companies would be wise to engage Baby Boomers and pair them with the Millennials for more mentoring opportunities,” said Sally Stetson, co-founder and principal of executive recruiter Salveson Stetson Group. “In addition, the Baby Boomer generation can also be mentored by Millennials in technology initiatives or social media.”

“Millennials are no longer new to the workforce, they’re now in the thick of it,” said Rich Milgram, founder and CEO of Beyond. “However, a significant portion of the older employees they’re managing don’t have faith in their abilities. The only way to overcome this unique challenge is through a range of professional learning and development delivery options. This will help create a culture of learning that benefits all generations, and provide employees with the tools and resources they need to flourish as leaders.”

Its essential for companies to get a good handle on what makes Millennials tick. Recent figures released by on-demand talent provider Findly concluded that Millennials are poised to make up 75 percent of the global workforce by 2020.

So what’s the best way to attract this hugely important faction of the best and the brightest to your company?

Studies have shown that Millennials are good team players, ambitious, they seek constant appraisal, and they look for fast promotions. That means they are likely to develop into job-hoppers, which is frustrating to companies that hire them.

Another important element for retaining the best Millennial talent is offering a consistent work/life balance. Fifty seven percent of Millennials said they will leave a job if they aren’t getting it.

Findly’s study also found that Millennial job seekers often crave as much information as possible to guide their job search. Employers can meet this need by updating corporate career websites and showcasing their values. The study found that Millennials rely heavily on online resources.

Career websites should use clear and simple navigation, and have just the right amount of real and authentic information. Millennials will check a company’s career site, social media presence, YouTube, and review sites, and they will use search engines to find compelling stories about the company’s culture.

Onsite events also allow Millennials to connect directly and on a personal basis, necessary kinship among this demographic group. Millennials build personal relationships through social media networks and often go to personal connections to learn about opportunities, to research companies and their reputations before they apply, and companies have to provide this pathway.

Millennials are most influenced by friends, personal contacts, and word-of-mouth when making major decisions. In their job search, they care about company reputation and will seek out information from their network to get a full perspective of an opportunity. And for a generation weaned on smartphones, companies must deliver a mobile-optimized experience.

A past Futurestep study found that Millennials are becoming more motivated by given the opportunity to make an impact and aligning with company values. When asked what matters most to employees who are part of the Millennial generation, the greatest number of respondents (23 percent) said it was “the ability to make an impact on the business,” followed by “a clear path for advancement” (20 percent) and “development and ongoing feedback” (16 percent).

Income came in at fourth place at 13 percent. When questioning what makes Millennials choose one job over another, more than a third (38 percent) said “visibility and buy-in to the vision of the organization” while 28 percent said “a clear path for advancement.” “Job title and pay” came in third place at 18 percent.

“This demonstrates the changing priorities of today’s young workforce. Where traditionally we might have expected salary to be the No. 1 differentiator for talent choosing their next employer, Millennials are now placing greater value on understanding what a company stands for and how, as employees, they can play a role in growing the organization into a better, stronger brand,” said Trish Healy, Futurestep vice president of RPO operations in North America.

“As part of the recruiting and onboarding process, organizations need to clearly communicate the paths for advancement and create ongoing dialogue about development opportunities.”

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media

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