3 things every manager should know about managing Millennials and Gen Z

Who are millennials?

Millennials are a demographic cohort following Gen X, born between 1981-1996. Some of their typical qualities consist of creativity, problem-solving, adaptability, and thinking outside the box. They are digital natives; millennials were born into an age of digital technology, and are therefore usually the centre of most marketing schemes. Millennials tend to hold high expectations of employers, and are not afraid to explore other options if these are not upheld.

Who are Gen Z?

Gen Z are a new cohort of digital natives, born between 1997 and 2012. They are the most ethnically and racially diverse generation to date, of which 48% are ethnic minorities. They are a highly connected generation, having grown up during the tech boom, making them valuable employees in the workplace. Gen Z value self-expression, creativity, and authenticity. Much like millennials, Gen Z seek meaningful work and crave honest feedback and a constructive managerial style.

Both generations share many of the same characteristics in the workplace. To know these is key to understanding how best to manage these cohorts.

  1. Do not lead with Assumption.

It’s human nature to try and find structure in a world of chaos. This is demonstrated by our desire to classify things into categories or stereotypes. However, many of these stereotypes are irrational and should be disregarded in today’s world of work.

Unfortunately, stereotypes exist that millennials favour their digital lives or they are non-committal towards their profession. These allegations are far from the truth. Although intergenerational approaches to work are varied and ever-changing, millennials are no less committed to getting tasks done than any other workers. New generations bring their own challenges into the workplace, but these come with unique and valuable skills that should be embraced. Proactively offer opportunities that encourage growth and improvement, and remember that flexibility is always appreciated!

Gen Z is equally subject to stereotypes. A prevalent assumption is that they are wedded to social media and technology. To reduce this new, creative generation to the phones they use completely disregards their qualities and capabilities outside the world of digital technology. Something as ubiquitous as social media should not be seen as a threat to the development of emerging employees. Furthermore, it is this very technology that provides an advanced and efficient future for the world of work. Gen Z’s ability to acclimate to new technology makes them great assets in the workplace. This misconception tends to come hand in hand with the idea that Gen Z lacks confidence in face-to-face communications. According to a survey by Employee Benefit News, 75% of Gen Z employees expect to learn from co-workers, and over half prefer to work in an office rather than from home. Just like any other generation, some are better with people than others.

  1. Improve retention by demonstrating an impact on society.

Millennials value purpose over pay. They change jobs. A lot. Toss out the standard HR approach that says you need to screen out ‘chronic job hoppers’. If you don’t, you’ll have an extremely limited talent pool to choose from. According to a study, 38% of millennials don’t stay at a job for more than 9 years. Most stay less than 3 years. Demonstrate how your company makes a difference in society and that their job is worthwhile.

Job hopping is also no myth when it comes to Gen Z. They are rooted in the effort to make a difference. With an abundance of new exciting opportunities at their fingertips, they are not afraid to pursue the next step forward. A study found that a Gen Z’er is likely to change jobs 10 times between ages 18 and 34. Another found that 83% of Gen Z would leave an employer if they didn’t see the right opportunities for career advancement.

  1. Give regular feedback.

Millennials crave unbiased feedback. They expect a responsive managerial style and are not reluctant to go elsewhere if this is unmet. Constructive feedback helps to achieve goals, and recognition affirms good behaviours.

Gen Z expect solid professional development plans that consist of coaching, mentoring, and career succession planning. They need to experience solid onboarding and healthy challenges to be successfully managed. Gen Z workers value feedback on a personalised level and recognition of good work.


Millennials and Gen Z are the future of the workforce. Knowing how to manage them will help them flourish into brilliant new workers and leaders.

Research carried out July 2022 by Alice Jones for Adalta Development Ltd