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5 ways you're managing your millennial employees all wrong

*This article was last updated August 2020.

A big shift is about to take place within workplaces everywhere. Yes, yours included.

The millennial generation (born between 1981 and 1996) is entering the workforce full-speed ahead. By 2025, 75 percent of your employee population will consist of millennials.

Millennials want a lot of the same things as previous generations (e.g. Gen Xers and Boomers). But as the most culturally and ethnically diverse age group in the workforce, the same old approach just won't cut it.

The catch? If employers don’t begin addressing culture change or current management styles and structures, it can come at a major cost.

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An employee earning a median salary of $45,000 costs $15,000 to replace.

Gallup estimates that millennial turnover could cost the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually.

To make sure you keep your company’s bottom line in check, and your millennial employees happy, healthy and engaged, avoid these common mistakes when managing this ever-growing generation entering the workforce.

The millennial employee population is expected to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. With this generation being plagued by multiple health conditions, health care costs are expected to rise and productivity to decrease — all impacting your bottom line. Download our free e-book Opens in a new window to get ahead of it. Take advantage of extensive research, in-house data and subject matter experts to create sustainable, long-term changes in your workplace today.

Mistake 1: You misunderstand millennial motives.

Breaking news: Ping pong tables and free beer on tap may be a way to showcase a cool and relaxed work environment, but it’s not impressing the millennial generation very much — if at all — especially in the long term.

It’s not about the bells and whistles for attracting (and retaining) millennial employees.

According to Forbes, when you take a deeper look into the millennial generation External Site, what they want is quite simple: a sense of purpose, ability to provide value, appreciation and a good working atmosphere.

According to, 84 percent of millennials care more about making a difference in the world than about professional recognition.

Mistake 2: You assume all millennials are the same.

A classic line that finds a home in every generation: “Kids these days don’t even know what it was like...”

While it’s easy for people to criticize millennials and say they are lazy, entitled and have short attention spans — not all millennials are the same. If you look at any generation, there’s strengths and weaknesses to each.

However, millennials are among the most diverse populations with a wide range of ethnicities, education and skills. At the end of the day, millennial employees want their employers to see them for who they are — rather than grouping them into various stereotypes.

Mistake 3: You're not investing in training or personal development opportunities.

The millennial generation is determined — if not borderline obsessed — with improving themselves. With several millennials entering various types of positions, there will be an increased demand in learning and development opportunities to ensure they find stability and further the success of their careers.

74 percent of employees felt they weren’t achieving their full potential due to a lack of development opportunities.


Source: LinkedIn Learning

Mistake 4: You’re not emphasizing work and personal life balance.

Most millennials grew up in households where both parents worked full-time jobs — either to make ends meet or save up for college tuition. They suffered secondhand stress of the workplace through their parents. It’s why this generation seeks employers who share their same values, and advocates for employers to do better when it comes to balance in the workplace.

Psst…if your employees can’t find work-life balance, it could lead to significant health problems down the road.

According to the Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® Health of America Report® External Site, millennials begin to see a decline in their health by age 27 — making them unhealthier than prior generations at the same age.

With this growing generation soon to take up a chunk of your workforce, your company can’t afford to employ millennials who are unhealthy or disengaged.

Check out these articles to learn how your workplace can support employees and prevent burnout:

Share these articles with your employees to help them find balance in their day-to-day:

Since (most) millennials march to the beat of their own drum, avoid pressing them too hard on hours spent at their desk, limiting their ability to move around throughout the day, being inflexible if they want to work from home, or even policing their attire — it’s likely you could lose a good employee External Site to an employer who offers a balance between work and life.

We’re all adults in the workplace. Let employees do what’s best for them and you’ll have productive, high-performing employees.

Mistake 5: You have an "It's always been done this way" management style.

Millennials don’t want (or respond well to) management systems that focus on what's been done year after year. Managers who fall into this system tend to guilt trip employees into coming in early and staying late, insert intimidation or fear, and even turn their back when problems arise.

Millennials want a boss who is willing to build an authentic relationship, not a transactional one. According to, when it comes to good managers, millennials are looking for a mentor External Site. A millennial employee is eager to find purpose in their life and career and wants to develop both personally and professionally. That’s why they’re turning to their management team to take them under their wing and guide them to success down the road.

Beginning the discussion around millennials in the workplace.

As millennials become a more prominent population within the workforce, it’s important to determine ways to avoid decreased productivity and increased health care costs. For the sake of your company’s bottom line, the health of your employees, and the success of your business, consider a holistic approach by addressing the six elements of well-being.

We will continue to provide you with content surrounding insights, trends, tools and resources, tips and tricks and health-specific information to keep you in-the-know about your millennial employees.

Start by investing in your employee’s health and well-being.

At Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, we know your business and have insights and data on your employees that you may not have in-house. Our team of employer health and well-being consultants can serve as an extension of your workplace and provide expertise in creating engaging solutions to meet the unique, ever-changing needs of your organization.

Questions? Contact your authorized Wellmark account representative or email us at Send Email.