Managing the Millennial Mindset

The average young person that enters into the workforce today will change jobs more than 11 times before the end of their career. Everywhere you turn, employers are talking about how to manage their Millennial workers and keep them engaged and loyal to their workplace. In agriculture, we have a shortage of skilled new workers available, that is a problem in and of itself, but keeping the young workers we hire is an important part of helping organizations be successful in the long-term. 

In 2016, the Millennial generation (individuals born between 1980-2000) became the largest generation in the workforce at 56 million participants. Falling closely behind them at 53 million were from Generation X (individuals born between 1964-1980) and then, 41 million Boomers (individuals born between 1946-1964). There are around 3 million Traditionalists (born before 1946) still at work.


With multiple generations working together, each one of us has different cultural and life influences the way that we interact with each other in the workplace. Oftentimes Millennial workers tend to value work-life interaction, relationships with co-workers and their leaders, as well as a more informal work style. While Boomers tend to place the meaning for their life in their work by building the perfect career, oftentimes with the same employer, millennial workers are often thinking more about how their job fits into their life. They might even build multiple careers at once. Even with the different view of work that the Millennials hold, they are the most educated generation of our time. They also deeply desire to make an impact on the world with their life, and work is a part of that larger purpose. 

But how do you make sure that you start off on the right foot with these young employees? In his book, "Not Everyone Gets a Trophy," author Bruce Tulgan gives some recommendations on how to choose the person who is the right fit for you organization and how to keep them there. 

Tulgan says, get them on board with the right message. Be up front from the beginning about all of the expectations of the job. Let them know all the things that it will entail, both the good and the not so good; for example, long hours, limited leave during the holiday season, or the perk of a bonus for good performance. Help them understand that your place of business wants to retain them.


During the interview process, there are many ways to provide a more accurate reading of the person up for the job. Use the interview as an opportunity to really get to know your potential hire as much as possible. 

  1. 1. Try a probationary hiring period. 
  2. 2. Create an internship. 
  3. 3. Organize a job shadow experience. 

During the interview itself, ask questions that will help you gain insight into the behavior of the person. Ask scenario questions that fall in line with the work that the person will actually be doing, such as, "if you were in x situation, how would you respond?" This kind of interview will allow you to understand the person's behavior and you can get a better idea of what to expect when they start the job.

Managing the Millennial mindset is all about understanding and communicating with your young workers to ensure that they can make the biggest impact possible in their role, and that they find greater meaning with their work.  


Dr. Lauren Ledgetter Griffeth is an Extension Leadership Specialist at the University of Georgia. She is a former 4-H member who loved spending summers picking squash, blueberries, and peas with her grandmother in their garden. Lauren specializes in women's agricultural leadership and she and her husband are partners in a local vegetable business. Connect with Lauren on Twitter: @laurengriffeth. 

related topics: women in agriculture

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