Making that Connection – 5 Tips to Communicating with Millennials in the Workplace


Communicating with Millennials

Millennials are slowly becoming the most dominant force in the workplace. Not just because of their sheer numbers which are expected to reach 46 percent of the workforce by 2020. But more importantly, these individuals possess a better understanding of technology making them the perfect candidate for today’s tech-heavy working environment.

Millennials spend most of their growing years surfing the internet or communicating with friends through different social media platforms.  But their strength could also be the most difficult barrier to overcome in workplace communication.

Millennials often go the individual route not because they shun personal communication. This work independently because they are highly adept in researching for information that is readily available with today’s technology.

Effective communication is an essential component in building better working relationships in your company. Companies that are able to encourage people to work cohesively with each team member will find that their teams will work more productively as well.

Since better workplace communication can improve team productivity, team’s should make sure to prioritize it. If you’re having a difficult time communicating with millennials, below are a few tips on how you can connect with them more effectively.



One of the biggest barriers in the workplace is the failure to communicate caused by the diversity of generations in the workplace.

In an article published by NAVEX Global, today’ workplace is composed of:

  • The Silent Generation (born 1900-1945) which currently makes 3 percent of the global workforce
  • 25% are Millennials (1981-2000) surpassing the number of Baby Boomers (1946-1964) in 2014, and Generation X (1965-1980) in 2015
  • Millennials are on track to comprise 50 percent of the workforce worldwide by 2020.

Be a better communicator by dispelling gen-related misconceptions and finding a common ground during discussions. Building better workplace communication starts with understanding how a millennial’s mind works or how to engage your millennial employees better.

Spending more time with millennials in and out of the office allows you to deploy empathy to understand who they are.Being able to transcend this barrier makes it easier for you to communicate more openly with whatever generation you are addressing .



One of the major complaints made by managers about their millennial employees is the amount of time they spend on social media in the workplace. But we should also understand that this is something they have grown up with and using social media has become second nature with them. Rather than merely discouraging the use of social media in the workplace for personal entertainment, leveraging the use of social media as a tool for communication is the better strategy.

Develop an effective social media strategy for communicating with your millennial employees. The benefits of using social media as a tool for communication in the workplace includes streamlined communications, create better personal relationships, and improve collaboration among co-workers.

A study conducted by McKinsey Global Institute found that 72 percent of companies use social media. But it also showed that these companies are not leveraging their maximum benefits. According to the research, a company with an effective social media strategy can improve employee productivity by as much as 20 to 25 percent.

Companies that require a high level of interaction among its employees can greatly benefit from the use of social media in the workplace. According to the study, employees spend 28 percent reading and answering emails, 19 percent searching and gathering information, 14 percent communicating and collaborating internally, and 39 percent for role specific tasks in a workweek.

By leveraging social media, a company can increase productivity by 20 to 25 percent by saving work hours spent on:

  1. 7 to 8 percent from Reading and answering emails
  2. 5.5 to 6.5 percent from searching and gathering information
  3. 3.5 to 5 percent from communicating and collaborating internally
  4. 4 to 6 percent from role specific tasks



Millennials are highly motivated individuals, and managers should learn how to channel this positive vibe into making them more productive. Effective communication with millennials involves constant feedback, collaborative goal setting, and creating reasonable performance expectations.  

Constant, informal check-ins by managers give millennials a better perspective of how their work is contributing to their organization’s goals. A research by Gallup showed the importance of keeping employees engaged through one-on-one meetings.

By manager’s having consistent one on ones, their direct reports were constantly engaged and allows Millennials to communicate their concerns and ideas in a more informal setting.

According to a study by Hays, millennials look for workplace leaders who are:

  •         Decisive (50 percent)
  •         Supportive (45 percent)
  •         Able to motivate others (43 percent)
  •         A person of integrity (42 percent)

More than bosses, millennials look for managers who are supportive. A mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor. A person who is not only able to lead, but more importantly someone who is able to listen, especially to a younger colleague.  



According to the book “Work Rules!”, by Laszlo Bock, former Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, Google’s success in the workplace is best described as a place that is continuously innovating, experimenting, and keeping things fun. Block states that by creating an exceptional workplace environment promotes fun, creativeness, and increased productivity.

Creating an open, friendly, workplace does not only mean more open 

lines of communication. This also includes removing physical barriers. It may also involve some serious renovations such as eliminating traditional private offices that separate managers from their employees.

According to a Deloitte Millennial Survey made in 2017, millennials prefer more flexibility in the workplace. It 

allows them to work alone or with others. Understanding how your millennial employees work when they want to work alone or open to working with others gives you valuable insight on when to best communicate with them.



Rather than simply giving millennials instructions, inspire creativity by challenging them how to use their talents to improve productivity. This encourages discussion and a more open exchange of ideas.

A Pew Research Center analysis of Current Population Survey data shows that almost 40 percent of millennial workers ages 25 to 29 had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2016 compared to 32 percent of the older generations when they were in the same age range.

Millennials equipped with better education and skill sets may prefer to work more independently. What does this mean for a manager in today’s workplace? This simply means that your millennial workforce is more talented requiring fewer instructions and needs to be challenged to keep them motivated.



Today’s workplace is a diverse collection of several generations which certainly poses a challenge for managers. But it also represents a beautiful opportunity for them to bring this collective knowledge together for the company’s success.

However, to turn this challenge into an opportunity, a manager must first learn how to be an effective communicator. In today’s diverse workplace, effective communication with millennials is a must-have skill for any manager.

Jeff Butler

Jeff Butler Internationally respected speaker and consultant, Jeff Butler helps bridge generational gaps between Millennials and companies looking for their talent and patronage. Butler has quickly built his reputation as a memorable presenter with tangible solutions for attracting, retaining, and engaging Millennials as employees and customers. Within just the past three years, he has spoken at two TEDx events and multiple Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Amazon, and LinkedIn.


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