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Integrating Millennials into the Workplace: Tricky or Easy?

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The Annual Conference of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) – hosted recently to a maxed-out conference hall of over 1500 eager guests (not to mention a couple of rooms that were participating remotely) – had one over-riding seminar topic: Millennials in the workplace.

Millennials are now an indispensable part of work – indeed, with 50% of our offices and factories slated to comprise Millennials by2020, they are well on their way to dominating the workplace. The seminar decided to address the elephant in the room head on: If HR professionals are still looking at Millennials as a challenge, it’s time they sorted out the puzzle. Because, if anything, Millennials are both a reality, and an opportunity.

So how do you handle them? Simple, though not necessarily easy: Figure out who they (really) are, find out where they are coming from, understand what makes them tick.

So if you’re carrying the stereotype in your head that Millennials have short attention spans, get the flip side: They are good at processing information quickly and move on.

If you think they are ‘blunt’, realize that they have a pretty reliable radar when it comes to falseness, and prefer things honest and straight.

If you believe they lack focus, understand that they have a natural ability to connect the dots and make a pretty accurate sense of their world.

If you’ve ever felt they are selfish, know that 81% of Millennials have donated to money, goods or services at some point of their lives.

If you’re of the opinion they lack a moral compass, be informed that 75%  of Millennials will not compromise their family and personal values.

If you’ve been told that this is a tribe that doesn’t care, research findings will beg to differ: After all, 61% of Millennials are concerned about the state of our planet, and feel personally responsible to do something about it.

Think Millennials live in their own little fantasy world? Maybe you missed the memo: With heroes like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, their fantasies are well grounded in reality.

And finally, if you’ve been carrying around the view that Millennials are ‘clannish’, the real story can surprise you: This is a generation that freely acknowledges and appreciates the power of a group, cherishes diversity (in fact, the lack of it can turn them off) and are great at networking (and what’s more, using that talent to great advantage when it comes to changing jobs).

The 411 for managing Millennials therefore? The Conference left us valuable takeaways :

• Face challenges head on
• Be supportive
• Show empathy
• Look for ways generations can learn from each other
• Share results
• Be transparent
• Be patient
• Feedback is a gift

Use this as a loose guide, be a little more flexible, and you’ll do just fine when it comes to harnessing the power of the Millennial generation at work.

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