Why Managers Need to Stop Worrying and Love Millennials

Millennials will challenge traditional managerial methods and question your every move. However, they will also bring energy, tech savvy and innovative ideas. Focus on hiring and retaining them as if your job depends on it -- because it will.

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Thu, October 10, 2013

CIO — On an early Monday morning, a young business analyst walked into his manager's office and, without speaking a word, began scribbling feverishly on a whiteboard. He had worked eight hours on a Sunday, probably from his home, having been spurred by a novel idea.

He wrote: "a(slope)+b(w5)+c(?(avg(wl-4),w5)"

It was a formula to determine the propensity for a customer to upgrade or churn out, essentially solving a problem that an entire team had spent months in vain trying to work out.

"No other generation blurs the lines between work and play like millennials do," writes Heidi Farris, vice president of community engagement and marketing at Bloomfire and the business analyst's manager, in a blog post. "They want to play when they feel like playing, and they want to work when they feel like working; you might be surprised at how often (and when) they feel like working given the choice."

Forget What You Know About Managing Tech Pros

Farris will be the first to tell you that managing millennials requires a break from traditional managerial methods. Millennials value freedom of choice, from working hours to technology tools. Their work and personal lives merge into a single shade of gray. Mobile tech tools, cloud computing and BYOD mock the days of punching a clock and toiling in an office cubicle the size of a bathroom stall.

Slideshow: 15 iPhone Apps Millennials Can't Live Without

Hiring millennials and keeping them happy will be critical to a company's future. Millennials bring energy, tech savvy and new ideas to companies that live and die on the threshold of innovation. Silicon Valley companies are fighting for them.

Earlier this summer, a Cisco executive said the company will hire 2,000 millennials this year. Four weeks later, Cisco said it will cut 4,000 workers mostly in middle management. By 2025, millennials will comprise nearly 75 percent of the world's workforce. Like it or not, the youth movement has begun.

How managers handle millennials will make all the difference. Google recently conducted a study of its workers and found that the top reason millennials (and, to be fair, everyone else) will quit is a bad relationship with a manager.

Here's the kicker: A recent survey by Millennial Branding and Beyond.com found a revolving door among millennials. Nearly 60 percent of millennials will leave their jobs within their first three years, an increased ratio of 2 to 1 compared to previous generations, the survey says. It costs a company anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000 to replace a millennial worker.

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