Managing Millennials For Dummies
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Millennials can’t be corralled into a single group without distinctions. At the risk of giving a history lesson about the American dream, you might want to think about how you’ve seen it change over time. How are your grandparents’ stories different from your own? How have motivations changed over time?

While achieving the American dream used to look like getting married, owning a beautiful home with a white picket fence, and having lots of children’s mouths to feed, now it can look like some version of that or the equally accepted tiny home or apartment dwelling, with no additional mouths to feed.

The media loves to paint Millennials as averse to marriage, averse to children, and averse to owning a home. Though there are more who align with these ideals in their generation, it is by no means the majority! Here’s a more accurate view:

  • The marriage dream: Most Millennials want to get married but not at the age of generations past — for example, in 1960, the average bride was around 20 and the groom was around 23. Now, the average age of the bride is around 26 and the groom is around 29 (Pew Research, 2011). Some Millennials choose to delay marriage either because it’s too expensive or, in their eyes, unnecessary. Domestic partnerships and long periods of dating are more commonplace than ever before.
  • The house dream: Many Millennials seek new digs for their lives and lifestyles, which is probably why they are outpacing Generation Xers now as first-time homebuyers. It turns out that the majority of Millennials want to own a home, but what they plan to put in it — or, more accurately, who they plan to put in it — is slightly different than generations past.
  • The kid dream: While the majority of Millennials either already do or will have kids within the next decade, couples who dwell together, dine together, and see their futures together may envision those futures without wee babes. And that means their motivation is different. For couples of yore, the motivation was more simple — you don’t work, your family doesn’t eat. Now, that’s changing.
As a manager, you’ve likely seen other generations of DINKs, so be sure that you can manage Millennial DINKs in a way that works for them. Here are our do’s and don’ts:
  • Don’t make them work after hours because their responsibilities seem lighter. Everyone has responsibilities outside of work. Granted, taking care of children is taxing and unpredictable, so there are different levels of implied flexibility. Be careful not to make it seem like the Millennial who doesn’t have the same kind of responsibilities has more freedom to take on more and should, because that’s what was done in the past.
  • Don’t pressure the DINKs into the non-DINKy lifestyle. Millennials who are DINKs have likely heard plenty of adults in their lives ask them when that’s going to change. Or, they’ve had adults say things like, “Well, that’s just your generation’s way of doing things, isn’t it?” Don’t call attention to their choices as something that will change in the near future.
  • Do recognize that they are likely motivated by finances in a unique way. Many DINKs are targeted by financial institutions because of their accrued and shared wealth, and chances are those you manage are happy to have more disposable income. They’re also likely paying off student loans, among other debts, so they love having a higher bucket of income.
  • Do acknowledge their thirst for freedom. Millennial DINKs are a lovely image of the devourer of the experience economy. They take spontaneous trips, pick up and move to have a dream career, and excitedly take on new hobbies and responsibilities outside of work. As a manager, acknowledging those freedoms as having equal value/importance as those of a Millennial with children will go far to motivate Millennials.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Hannah L. Ubl is the Research Director at BridgeWorks and transforms data into stories for the masses. Lisa X. Walden is the Communications Director at BridgeWorks where she delivers compelling, breakthrough generational content. Debra Arbit is CEO of BridgeWorks: a generational consulting company (

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