As Pew Research recently reported, Millennials will outnumber Boomers this year. You can read the report here with some very cool charts and graphs. Basically people 14 – 34 will outnumber people 51-69. Of course most 14-20 year olds won’t be in the workplace, but the wave is coming. This happens at the same time as more and more Boomers are planning on working well into their 60s, even 70s. We’re in the most inter-generational work environments America has ever seen and that phenomena isn’t going to change anytime soon.

Is your office ready for productively incorporating Millennials into your teams? Are your Boomers spending more time complaining about Millennials and “their entitlement” than making it work in the office? Are your Millennials feeling under-appreciated and misunderstood and leaving you before they hit their first annual review? Do your GenX colleagues express exasperation at both other groups? You are not alone.  At the same time inter-generational conflict is nothing new. We just feel it more because it’s us and there are three big generations in our teams.

Actually, I divide Millennials into three groups:

  • group 1 are the 9/11 group 28-34 and came into the workplace in 2001 — and don’t know flight travel without quart-sized baggies for their liquids, and were the first to embrace DVRs (yeah Tivo!)
  • group 2 is the group 22-27 that came of age in the aftermath of the Great Recession; many are still looking for jobs commensurate with their education, and have really felt the downward pressure of Boomers staying in the workforce longer than they planned in the last five years.
  • group 3 is 14-21 — these kids have technology in their homes, pockets and classrooms that wasn’t even an idea for group 1; upside down learning, mobile media, Snapchat….it’s an entirely different context than the oldest of their generation.

You can read a lot more about the dynamics between and among the generations in “Millennials & Management: The Essential Guide to Making it Work at Work” which I wrote last year to help teams and companies get past the generalizations and stereotypes and find a productive and harmonious way to work together.

But looking for the top 5 things you can do to make your teams Millennial-ready?

  1. Millennials want to matter. Make sure everyone understands how they fit into the vision of the company. Each person needs to have a clear vision of how their work MATTERS – to the team, to the project to the company.
  2. Context is King. “Because I said so” does not work. If you do nothing else, make sure everyone understand WHY the work matters BEFORE they start.
  3. Solicit and Encourage Input throughout a project. If you can’t apply the ideas, explain why. If you take a survey, share the results.
  4. Teams who feel appreciated outperform those you don’t by a factor of 3:1: Do not underestimate the power of “Please” and “Thank You.
  5. Support the desire to contribute to the community. Create volunteer team days, support your peoples’ causes, turn a holiday into a floating volunteer day.

Of course nothing in this list isn’t good for everyone in the office or on the team, regardless of their age. Everything that works for Millennials benefits the rest of the workforce – Millennials have just been conditioned to ask for it.

Recruiting, engaging and retaining Millennials is a strategic advantage for your business. The faster you find your way to do this, the faster you have the strategic advantage.