Makarios Consulting Blog

Millennials: They’re Just Like Everybody Else

“The single biggest decision you make in your job – bigger than all the rest – is who you name manager. When you name the wrong person manager, nothing fixes that bad decision. Not compensation, not benefits – nothing.”

–Jim Clifton, CEO Gallup

Inc. contributor Marcel Schwantes published an article last June about why employees leave their jobs  He references the findings of a massive 2013 Gallup study – 25 million interviews over many decades – on employee engagement. The upshot: bad managers are the number one reason for employee turnover, no matter the compensation or perks.

You’re probably asking yourself what this has to do with Millennials?

In the last few years, there’s no shortage of research on Millennials in the workplace. Key findings have emphasized how leaders need to connect with them in nontraditional ways. We recently published a blog on this very topic titled “Baby Boomer, Meet Millennial: How to Teach Leadership”.

But let’s step back for a moment and ponder again this idea of bad managers and employee turnover. According to another Gallup poll survey of 7,200 adults including Millennials, Boomers and GenXers, half left their job ‘to get away from their manager.”

This is not a generational problem – Baby Boomers, GenXers, or Millennials – it’s a people problem. It’s a management problem. The point being that no matter the age or generation, peoples’ core needs remain the same:

  • Meaningful work recognition for a job well done
  • Fair compensation
  • Clarity as to how their work fits into the larger mission of the organization
  • A sense of purpose in their work

Millennials may bring different emphases to the workplace – they desire instant feedback, a preference for working virtually, community involvement – but deep down they are looking for the same satisfaction as GenXers or Baby Boomers. The difference is merely in how that satisfaction is delivered.

As leaders, we need to understand and adapt to trends and changes in the workplace. But, we can’t lose sight of the big picture: people are people, no matter what their ages, and we all have the same basic desires: to be treated fairly and professionally in a workplace that recognizes our strengths and gives us the tools we need to do our job and to build our leadership skills.

While it’s important to recognize the particular mindset of each generation in the workplace, we also must remember that, at their core, people want the same things.