How to Train Your Millennial

Originally published May 16, 2017 by The Montrose Daily Press

Over the last three or five years, I’ve read many articles about the “art of marketing to millennials.”

What’s perhaps become even more perplexing is the art of coexistence with millennials in a work setting. This is of course after us millennials actually have jobs, move out of our parents’ basement and stop being so darned entitled. Right?

I get it. If you are not a millennial, or if you are an “outlier millennial,” we might just drive you crazy.

Millennial, as defined by Wikipedia: (also known as Generation Y) are the cohort following Generation X (mostly in western countries).

There are no precise dates for when this cohort starts or ends; demographers and researchers typically use the early 1980s as starting birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as ending birth years. Millennials, who are generally the children of baby boomers and older Gen Xers, are sometimes referred to as “Echo Boomers” due to a major surge in birth rates in the 1980s and 1990s.

Essentially, we are 22-ish to 36-ish with age exceptions on both sides. We are the generation who has become known for wanting to advance professionally without “doing” our time. After all, we grew up in homes with parents telling us we could be anything we wanted to be.

Thus an uprising of young Americans believing they’re going to be the next POTUS, Dr. McDreamy, or ruler of their own universe.

Please don’t get me wrong. There is absolutely no way of homogenizing a group of approximately 73 million Americans. We aren’t all the same. That aside, you’ve undeniably employed one of us, you share an office with one of us, or you are one of us. We are approximately 55 percent of the workforce today. Transcending the generational gap can be frustrating no matter which side of the fence you reside.

Though we millennials may come off like we want to spend our day scrolling through Instagram in a pair of ripped jeans and flip flops while arriving at the office at 9 a.m. and leaving by 4; there is quite a bit more to it than that.

Having spent the better part of my career working for organizations that wanted me to fit their mold rather than vice-versa, I can attest to the frustration and disheartening effect this can have on a person.

If you’re interested in creating a different type of workplace, here are a few ways of speaking “millennial.”

1. Flexibility in schedule: Though it may seem like we have a difficult time adhering to the typical 8-5 schedule, you’ll often find us responding to emails or working on a report from home at 10 p.m. If you run the type of business that does not require physical staffing during a given period, I encourage you to explore the mentality of “work 40 hours when you work them.”

Give your millennial the trust and freedom of working whenever and watch their productivity rise. I would even wager that you’ll get more hours than the required 40.

2. Development first; pay increase later: I once worked for an incredible boss who really spoke my professional love language. Sure, he was consistent with pay increases when merit warranted, but it was his philosophy on personal development that built loyalty and affinity toward the organization.

He believed organizations should learn about each employee’s career goals regardless of those goals involving the organization and then help employees work toward success through training, conference travel, and on the job experience.

Just like a real love language, this type of practice filled up my work-love tank. I never even considered entertaining a different place of employment during this era.

3. Do it differently:  The phrase, “that’s the way we’ve always done it” makes us want to break things. According to “They (millennials) want to be free of old workplace policies and performance management standards, and they expect leaders and managers to adapt accordingly.”

As evidenced by being the most politically independent generation, we millennials want the freedom of choice when it comes to structure. We are more apt in doing the right thing because it is the right thing according to our moral compass, not because the policy said so.

4. Know what you stand for: Millennials are looking for work that fulfills their sense of purpose.

Gallup cites “71 percent of millennials who strongly agree that they know what their organization stands for and what makes it different from its competitors say they plan to be with their company for at least one year.”

Blame it on our parents who repeatedly told us “because I said so,” but we have grown tired of the mystery and crave the “why” behind things. Once we understand the direction and purpose, we have no issue buckling down and driving hard until we get there.

Millennial might be a difficult word to spell, but it is not a “four letter” word.

Just like any investment; millennials are an important part in staying diversified in your employment portfolio. You may think letting millennials run wild with their idea of “work” is a risky move, but I challenge that thinking. I say the greater risk is taming the dragon and missing out on the fire.

Chelsea Rosty is the executive director of the Montrose Chamber of Commerce and director of Business Innovation for the City of Montrose. Reach her at: