Mentoring Through Challenging Times: Hiring (and keeping) Millenials

By Ellen Sherberg for Bizwomen.


Good news — you’re hiring again. Other news — it’s hard to find people and tougher to keep them. During the pandemic, WorkBoard saw an uptick in business from a wide range of industries, and we experienced major growth: hiring 82 people in the first part of the year, with a large portion of those hires being younger millennials.

Two-thirds of corporate recruiters say their organization has a difficult time managing millennials, but we believe that each generation simply has different expectations around transparency and work tools.

Millennials are used to communicating instantly and constantly. They presume transparency and they presume other people are seeing, reading, and reacting to what they communicate. Because they’re used to peer groups with the same communication norms, they are both able to, and 70% prefer to, work independently and coordinate digitally, according to PwC. The workplace also reaps the benefit of their natural transparency -- instead of the forced march to share facts and status in reports, read-outs, and meetings. We welcome young people to our team and want to do everything we can to enable them to succeed. In addition to remembering what it was like to be young, we like to keep these six tips in mind to smooth out the differences and engage with our young, talented team members:

  • Know when you hire them that you're signing up to be a leader, mentor, coach, and manager -- both a wonderful opportunity and an obligation.

  • Communicate goals, share how their work supports the mission, and be transparent.

  • Provide frequent feedback and positively reinforce work well done to contribute to on-the-job training.

  • Respond to mistakes by providing guidance on expectations, alternative approaches, and logic for different decision-making. Remember, you didn't hire for their experience, you're helping them build it.

  • Share your lessons learned, subject matter expertise, and leadership skills. Inspire and engage them with both wisdom and kindness.

  • Avoid training them to hide the ball, bogging them down with irrelevant tasks, or expecting them to be effective (or happy) with productivity tools older than they are.

While they’re on your teams, be open to being inspired yourself! Borrow a bit of their fearlessness, embrace the experience of helping others, appreciate their transparency bias and value their interest in work/life balance – these are things our workplace and we genuinely need them.

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