When Millennials Become Managers

By Mark Heymann Chairman & CEO, Unifocus | August 13, 2017

Since millennials became the majority generation in the workforce in 2015 - and are on track to represent more than 50 percent by 2018, there has been a great deal of discussion around the challenges the generational divide poses to the boomers and Gen Xers who manage this younger cohort. Studies have scrutinized how millennials' priorities differ from those of their seniors in the workplace. They point to the millennials' desire for flexible scheduling as they strive for greater work-life balance.

Managers accustomed to playing it close to the vest are having to learn to share more information with their teams to suit the millennials' need to understand how their role impacts the organization and the community as a whole. And they are having to adjust their managerial style from a traditional top-down approach to more of a coaching role, eschewing formal annual reviews for more frequent feedback opportunities to help their millennial workers improve personal performance.

Now, as they become more deeply established in the workplace, millennials will begin to move into managerial roles themselves. And in doing so, they will find themselves in the unique position of overseeing an age-diverse workforce that spans four - and sometimes five - generations.

The 5G Workplace

An increase in the average retirement age and in life expectancy means a larger number of older Americans continue to work. While these are primarily boomers, there are still some traditionalists, also known as the silent generation, in the mix. On the other end of the spectrum, the vanguard of Generation Z has made its entry. With its oldest members currently around 24 years old, Gen Z will represent as much as 20 percent of U.S. workers by 2020.

Generational Mindsets

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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.