Industry Trends

6 Effective Ways to Manage Millennials in Manufacturing

millennials in manufacturing

By 2025, three out of four people in the workforce will be millennials, according to Forbes. As manufacturing managers look to fill the large percentage of employees who will soon prepare for retirement, it’s important to adapt management and retention strategies to foster job satisfaction.

The following six practices can help keep millennials in their element and satisfied with their position.

Embrace a versatile manufacturing approach.

Today’s millennial workforce has a different expectation for career advancement opportunities. In fact, millennials require a completely different style of management compared to groups before them.

With a more informed awareness of their strengths, communication and work styles, leaders will be more prepared to encourage and customize millennials’ drive toward taking on new responsibilities and understanding the potential ways for their voice to be heard as an active part of the company’s direction.

Keep them engaged.

Provide millennials with continual learning opportunities to keep them engaged and focused on professional development. Avoid day-to-day routines, and focus on new challenges.

From lunch-and-learns to training programs to attending tradeshows and conferences, the spectrum of activities can vary in format, length and frequency — they just need to be developed and promoted properly.

Retaining millennials requires a different strategy from employers to maximize potential,” suggests Jeannine Kunz, director of tooling U-SME. “Companies who embrace the millennials’ unique differences are the ones that will break new ground in the workplace and marketplace.”

manufacturing millennials

Avoid placing millennials into one box.

Millennials are made up of a vast combination of thinking and behavioral attributes, which is why it’s important to avoid stereotyping and generalizing as a manager.

Step back and assess the skills, background and potential of millennials with the appreciation that while they may share similar years of birth, they each bring a diverse, valuable mindset, attitude and motivation — just as the other generations are characterized by different leadership styles and attitudes at work.

Show that sustainability matters.

Sixty-two percent of millennials want to work for an employer that makes a positive social impact, according to Sarah Woodward, director of business development for Stable Kernel. Knowing their daily work contributes to the betterment of society is an important factor for millennials when determining job satisfaction.

Many millennials dedicate their educational careers studying in fields that that didn’t even exist when baby boomers and Gen X-ers were in school: like the philosophy of sustainability, sustainable development, and the art and science of sustainability.

Show that your manufacturing company also focuses on philanthropy and reducing your carbon footprint and help align with millennials’ interests.

Welcome new technology (and new ideas).

Technology matters in today’s world and workplace—millennials are 2.5 times more likely to be early adopters of technology than are older generations. Manufacturers that demonstrate a willingness to integrate new technologies into existing processes  (like 5s, the cloud, automation and more) will attract millennials.

“Rather than sticking with systems that might seem outdated, millennials will try to inject updated technology and workflows,” notes Chad Halvorson, founder and CEO of When I Work. “It will seem more efficient to them even if older employees prefer the way it’s ‘always been done.’”

No other generation has grown up steeped in technology like millennials have, and so what is seen as optional or gadgetry for older generations is natural and required for millennials. Be open to new ideas as these may streamline workflows and improve productivity.

Give them immediate feedback.

Nearly 42 percent of millennials want feedback every week, according to Tiny Pulse research. Don’t wait until your employee’s annual performance reviews to upload praise and criticism.

In millennial minds, managers aren’t just bosses; they’re coaches. They’re not just there to give out the paycheck. They’re not necessarily looking for constant praise, but rather how they want to keep score on how they’re doing in their career. They always want to be learning and growing. Managers are a key element to helping their personal and professional development.

What are some best management practices that you apply to your millennials? We’d love to chat. Contact us on Twitter @AppleRubber.