Managing Millennials in the Freight Industry

By: Lance Healy

In our last two posts, we’ve discussed how millennials are preparing to change the workplace and how millennials view the freight industry. In this, the conclusion of our three-part series on millennials in the workplace—with a special focus on the freight industry—we discuss tips for managing millennials in the freight industry. As well as how to create a harmonious work environment for millennials and older generations

Managing millennials in the workplace

So far, we’ve touched on the basics of millennials in the workplace, as well as the perspective of millennials looking at the freight industry. A major area we haven’t touched on is how members of the older generation view the youngest employees in their company.

There are a lot of negative stereotypes surrounding the millennial generation. Including, but certainly not limited to, millennials being self-centered, unsatisfied, and unwilling to work. While there is sufficient statistical data that debunks these stereotypes, for the opinions of many members of older generations, the damage has already been done.

So, if you are a put in charge of millennial employees at your workplace, how should you manage them or expect them to be managed. In Part 1 of this series, we touched on millennials wanting to be “coached, not bossed”, but still, what other specific management techniques are available that will allow you to get the most out of your employees?

One of the tips that is popular is creating work environments that are very team-oriented. For reasons unknown, millennials don’t have as much of a “lone ranger” attitude as previous generations. This means that millennials are selfless when placed in a team setting. This may be due to the overwhelmingly social aspect of how millennials grew up. With social media being a major tool in the development of the millennial generation, it makes sense that the newest workforce is interested in involving as many new perspectives as possible.

To take advantage of this preference, managers would be smart to organize large projects in group atmospheres. Divide and conquer your business’ goals by forming as many teams as possible to keep a high number of employees involved and contributing to every aspect of the plan. Your employees will revel in the success more, in the end, when they feel they all helped.

Another popular tip for managing millennials is to lean into their multitasking abilities. Millennials grew up with multiple devices in their possession at most times. Technology has adapted to this with talk-to-text features and phones that let you answer emails while still talking. Take advantage of this innate skill by keeping millennial employees engaged with as many tasks as they want. If they ask for something extra to do, don’t hesitate to load their plate to see what they are comfortable with. Get more done and avoid employees who are inactive at work.

One last tip that will increase millennial engagement and attract new talent is to make the workplace a more employee-centered space. I’m definitely not suggesting going so far as to make the office resemble a playground, but creating a space where millennials can enjoy where they are has shown to improve performance. Every office will react to this advice differently; it really depends on your employees. At the very least, improvements to an office space should be made by getting the opinions of everyone who works there. Nothing says you care about your employees more than listening to what they have to say. Who knows, you might be surprised by their preferences.

Creating workplace harmony among different generations

So now that you’ve used these tips and best practices to get the most out of your millennial employees, how do you create workplace harmony among the different generations? What works for millennials isn’t going to work for baby boomers. How do you appeal to all generations without picking one environment?

Beth Miller, a leadership development advisor and executive coach, has a few great suggestions for bridging the workplace generation gap.

The first of these plays off one of the aforementioned tips: creating team-oriented projects. Beth takes it a bit further. Beth’s advice is to create teams that are cross-generational. Meaning, don’t just use millennials on team-centered initiatives, make a point of diversifying the teams. This will bring your employees closer together, while also adding a new layer to the perspectives working towards a common goal.

Another way to generate harmony among different generations in the workplace is to create a mentoring program for new hires. In a program such as this, older employees would get the chance to teach new hires the ins-and-outs of their new company. On the other side, older employees will receive firsthand knowledge about the next generation entering the workplace.

Donna Fuscaldo, writing for Investopedia.com has an interesting idea for a mentoring program. Donna’s plan is to create a “reverse mentoring” program. This would have the younger employee mentoring the older employee. The result would be the millennial advising on new technology and social media jargon. This wouldn’t be a complete mentoring program, instead, it would be a more casual program that would be based on conversations more than formalities.

Conclusion

This post concludes our three-part series on millennials in the workplace. Hopefully, if you’ve been following along, you learned some interesting statistics and tips for dealing with millennials in the workplace.

Like it or not, the millennials are entering the workplace. The freight industry needs to be prepared for these newest employees. The businesses that adapt to the next generation of employees will experience the most success in the coming years.

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