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Managing the Millennials in the Workplace: Part 2

by Stephen J. Stine

Last week, we examined who the Millennials (members of Generation Y) are and tips for managing them in the workplace. This week we’ll look at some of the challenges they present to employers and how to deal with them.

Audio Conference: Are You Ready for the Millennials? What HR Needs to Know to Recruit and Manage the iPod Workforce

Avoiding problem areas
There are some problem areas you may need to address with your Millennial employees. It should be emphasized that while they may not specifically pose these problems, you should monitor these areas closely.

Unauthorized Internet use. Some Millennials may find it hard to resist the temptation to “play” on the Internet at work. They are so technologically savvy that they might want to download software, music, and even movies onto their work computers. Not only does that pose a security risk to your company, but it wastes time as well. Just as problematic, some Millennials may be inclined to surf the Internet endlessly, again wasting company time.

Updated employment handbook. Of course, some companies strictly curtail Internet use to work-related sites or otherwise monitor Internet use. You may want to add such restrictions to instant messaging, text messaging, and cell phone use as well. You should also make it a point to emphasize the company’s rules — and consequences for violations — when hiring and training Millennial employees.

Audit your policies and practices with the Employment Practices Self-Audit Workbook

Attendance/business hours policies. One of the more frequent complaints about Millennial employees is that they often show up late for work or don’t stay for the entire business day. Most of the time, these aren’t egregious violations. Usually, the infraction involves the employee regularly arriving to work 10 to 15 minutes late or leaving a little early at the end of the day.

Millennial employees should be firmly told that those types of infractions won’t be tolerated. You should emphasize to your younger workers that keeping regular business hours is meant to ensure their availability to the company and its clients, not simply to make sure they are completing their regularly assigned job responsibilities.

Dress code. Many Millennials wear appropriate work attire without complaint. If you experience any problems, it will probably be along the lines of an employee wearing clothes that are a bit too casual, failing to wear socks or a belt, or neglecting to tuck in a shirt. Because the image your company projects to the public is important, you should reexamine your employee handbook to make sure that dress code violations are appropriately addressed and emphasize those provisions to your younger employees.

Audio Conference: Too Pierced, Too Tattooed, Too Much: What You Can Prohibit in Your Dress Code

Performance evaluations. It’s especially important to conduct regularly scheduled performance reviews for your Millennial employees. You should use evaluations as a time to emphasize the work ethic and professionalism of your company. Generally, Millennials work hard and want to know that their efforts are appreciated.

Just as important, they crave feedback and evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses. They’ve been critiqued their whole lives — in the classroom, on the sports fields, and in performance halls. Don’t shy away from offering constructive criticism to your Millennial employees; they need it and want it.

Bottom line
Millennials are poised to become a large and very successful part of the American workforce. Their idealism, wealth of knowledge, and energy can be great assets to their employers. Many of them need guidance and structure, however, to adjust to the realities of working as a professional. With the right amount of understanding and oversight, you can make sure your Millennial employees are contributing to your company’s continued growth and success.