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Millennials and Generation Z in the Workplace

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The skills shortage is continuing to hit the headlines and technical advancements are transforming how we work. It is critical that employers consider how to maximise employee skills and potential. When developing future workforces, businesses should be asking themselves:

  • What makes millennials and Generation Z tick?

  • How do they fit in with and learn from the wider team?

  • How will you attract, retain and nurture the millennial generation to achieve both controlled and sustainable growth?

Millennia­­ls (born between 1980 and 2000) now make up a significant proportion of the workforce as Generation X (born between 1960 and 1980) begins to reach retirement age, while career progression into senior and leadership roles is accelerating to suit millennials’ demand for faster recognition and promotion.

The digital and technological landscape that they’ve grown up in has evolved resulting, in many cases, in behaviours and experiences very different to those of their parents. Time should be taken to understand their strengths and key motivators and consider how these attributes could bring value to your business:


1. ​ EMBRACE DIGITAL NATIVES – First and foremost, their ability to understand, adopt and implement new technology, use digital platforms and analyse data enables them to make informed decisions. Millennials want to digitalise processes and automate tasks which can often lead to creative thinking, unconstrained by precedent.  Millennial leaders can challenge and improve the accepted practices and processes in manufacturing.

2.   MAKE A JOB AN ‘OPPORTUNITY’ – Simply advertising a job and promoting yourself as a good business is not enough. Millennials want a CV full of ‘cool’ or interesting projects, and evidence that they are fast-paced achievers. The traditional approach of asking ‘why I should employ you?’ will have less impact than outlining the ambition of the business, and asking them to illustrate how they think they can contribute to or shape the future of the business.

3. ARE YOU SOCIAL? It is unlikely that you will find a millennial that doesn’t have a Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter account – make sure you are active on these platforms and channels otherwise you may be perceived as out of touch. What would you think if a potential employer didn’t have a website? This is probably the closest equivalent!

4.  CONTINUOUS DEVELOPMENT – Millennials crave new knowledge and challenges. They want to explore opportunities and learn new skills. Encouraging development will not only make their role more fulfilling but also provide an expanding skill-set which is important as 4IR continues to gain traction. Whilst not the absolute answer for retention it is certainly a factor that can improve your options and chance to keep individuals longer term.

5.  ENGAGE FOR THE LONGER TERM – Many employers cited a two-year timeframe after which millennials seek to move on to a new role.  How do you ensure that you mitigate this? Engage with the employee, give them a channel to discuss their aspirations and frustrations. Think more creatively, in addition to personal and professional development, you may want to consider graduate loan pay off schemes, sabbatical leave options, flexible working or individualised rewards

6.  CREATE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS  The ‘run before you can walk’ spirit is in many ways positive, an indicator of ambition, but it is important that expectations are realistic and can be met. Businesses need to therefore be clear about what needs to be achieved before moving up the career ladder.

7.  INDEPENDENCE It is important to not micro-manage individuals that excel when they are allowed to think more freely, uninhibited by traditional protocols. However, recognition of the importance of learning from the wider team, their experiences, past successes and mistakes is also crucial. Effective mentoring or buddying schemes with senior, experienced team members creates trust, team spirit and delivers the benefits of knowledge and skills transfer.

8.  SALARY OVER BENEFITS – Financial reward is key. The overarching salary is more important to millennials than other benefits they might receive. So be open and prepared to offer higher hourly rates or salaries rather than car packages or pensions.


This by no means supersedes the old adage of hiring for attitude and training for skills. However, the next generation of leaders, workers and customers are millennials, so adapting or investing now may give you a competitive edge. 


If you would like to discuss how we can help you maximise your employees’ skills and bridge the skills gap contact me on 01384 446149 or email me.

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