How to handle Millennials in the workforce!

Posted by David Cudlip 03 February 2017 11:09 AM

I’m proud to be advising some of the most exciting N.E scale up SME’s.  I love working with scaling up businesses as it gives me a real buzz to see business owners start to believe they can and ARE successfully scaling up. The impact this belief has on their family, friends, their team and in time; the wider impact on job creation, local economy is so rewarding.

However, scaling up a business does not come without its stumbling blocks. Arguably, the biggest derailer of a scale up business is people. The people element is a huge topic but I would like to touch on one common area within this blog. Specifically, the ability for scale up businesses to engage and retain key employees. This is a much tougher task today than ever before due to the emergence of Millennials.

For anyone that is unsure what exactly a Millennial is: they are a bunch of people who are born between 1980 and 2000. Its expected that Millennials will make up at least 50% of the global workforce by 2020.


The reason for this blog is that I’m actually in a unique position in that I’m a Millennial (honest!), I’m scaling up my business and I’m advising a number of scale up businesses.

Generally, employers react to Millennials in two ways: allow frustration to breakdown the relationship or just give Millennials everything they demand. Both are equally as ineffective as the other, but fear not, I’ve got three tips for employers with an ultimate of goal giving Millennials what they need; not what they want!

Top three tips for employers

#1 Create space for them to grow

The average tenure of Millennials in the work place is just two years! I believe this is down to one main reason: they simply won’t stick around if they feel they can’t grow personally in their current role.  As digital geniuses, Millennials have grown up in an era where the resources available are almost infinite. This makes Millennials effective problem solvers and critical thinkers. If you spot a Millennial in your ranks craving for progression; don’t hold them back. By offering projects or challenging tasks, Millennials feel their employer is investing in their personal growth.

#2 Be a mentor not a boss!

Unlike all generations before them, Millennials have been brought up to believe they are special. They received medals for coming last, they’ve been praised all of their life, told they can achieve anything and if things don’t quite work out that way; their mother was always there to fight their corner.

The point is that Millennials haven’t been brought up to just coast in to the real world. It’s possible that the first time Millennials find out that they aren’t perfect, aren’t special and their mother won’t fight their battles is when they enter the work place. Millenials.jpg

This is where the role of the mentor becomes critical in engaging and retaining the Millennial employee.  A quarterly review process isn’t sufficient, nor is regular feedback or even heaps of praise. A Millennial requires a mentor who truly understands them, takes time to find out what’s important and actually helps them understand how they could grow personally. The role of the mentor has now evolved to supporting Millennials through personal issues, gently nudging them out of their comfort zone and most importantly: to help them understand that the mountain is equally as important as the peak!

#3 Money isn’t everything

If you are the employer who gave a disgruntled Millennial a pay rise to keep them engaged; you will be nodding your head already. Simply put: Millennials need you to invest in them. This means personal growth, a clear company purpose that they resonate with, a fun and cool working company culture, flexible working and probably their birthday off…. and a present! Millennials need to feel valued and that their ideas count, they want more information on your business than you are comfortable sharing and they want to know exactly where your business is heading! Millennials no longer work for you: they work with you!

Money is still important of course, but you won’t be able to solely rely on it to lure the best talent.

Fear not, Millennials aren’t actually that different to the generations that have come before them. The only difference is that Millennials are the first generation with the guts to ask for it and to expect it. 

A great video on the topic of Millennials in the workplace is an interview with Simon Sinek with IQ Business Insider that took place in October and now has over 5 millions views on Youtube check the video out here

Last week I wrote a blog on "How to become a scale up leader" if you haven't checked it out already you can here


Topics: Business Owner