How to manage the workforce of the future

Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, are entering the workforce in vast numbers. These young people have very different career aspirations and attitudes to work than the soon-to-retire Baby Boomer generation. Millennials are incredibly technologically savvy and are using this knowledge to reshape the world – and the workplace.

According to research by PwC millennials don’t like rigid corporate structures and information silos and they expect rapid career progression and constant feedback. Some companies may find them difficult to manage but there’s no avoiding them. Come 2025, millennials will make up 75% of the workforce.

Attracting and retaining these younger workers may seem like a challenge. Technology giants including Apple and Google represent the quintessential millennial workplaces, yet a lot of what they offer is out of reach for smaller companies. Fortunately, with some simple and effective adjustments to HR and payroll processes, any business of any size will be able to manage the workforce of the future successfully.


Millennials want to manage their own work and life schedules. They also like to get things done quickly. ‘Old-fashioned’ business methods that take days to process infuriate them. A prime example is having to email the HR department every time they want to take time off.

Younger employees much prefer a self-service payroll system enables all workers to book their leave online as and when they need to. This gives them far more control over their time and personal plans. Once they’ve booked their dates, an alert is sent through to their manager who can immediately approve or decline the request. It’s an incredibly popular approach with younger staff members and can also be used to access tax certificates, complete performance evaluations and record expense claims. All information is completely transparent and easily accessible; no chasing colleagues or scrolling through long email chains.

Access to information

Millennials don’t like to wait for information. They grew up in a world powered by the Internet and are used to instantly accessing what they need to know. A business needs to ensure that its processes are similarly transparent. If, for example, one month their net salary is different to the usual amount, they want to be able to immediately see why this is, without waiting for someone to get back to them.

To keep the younger generation happy, companies should use technology that gives employees access to the information they need. A self-service payroll system, for example, will allow them to quickly access their latest and previous payslips to check deductions.

This empowers employees; armed with information they can follow up with specific questions and get better answers. There is no misinformation or delay in access to information which helps avoid any misunderstandings and allay any concerns.

Flexible hours

The old 9-5 work-day is just that – old. Millennials want work to fit in with their lifestyle. This means being able to travel more should they want to or, if they have a family or live far from the office, work from home more often. To keep younger employees happy, businesses need to give them the flexibility to work remotely when they need or want to.

This can be managed effectively with no negative impact on the business. Technology is a great enabler and there are many clever business tools that keep employees connected to each other and the company workflow, regardless of actual location.

A cloud-based payroll system also makes managing payroll remotely possible. Information is stored in the cloud so, as long as they have an Internet connection, employees can access the information they need at any time, from anywhere in the world.

Feedback and career development

The millennial generation wants to progress quickly. One of their biggest nightmares is a dead-end job with a micro-manager breathing down their neck. They don’t want to be checked up on constantly, they want to be mentored and guided along a definite career path.

To facilitate this, a good performance management system with 360-degree feedback processes in place is key. Millennials want to know how they can grow in their roles and a transparent review method will help them flourish. A clear career track makes them feel purposeful and satisfied – which encourages them to work better.

An electronic performance appraisal system enables employees and their managers access to an online performance journal which can be added to all year long. This ensures that reviews are conducted using information gathered over the entire appraisal period – not just at the last minute. Managers can also set their employees’ short-term goals and check-in on progress periodically, simply by logging on.

The trick to managing millennials in the workplace isn’t really a trick at all. Businesses simply need to make sure that their systems cater to their employees’ needs and offer them the flexibility and transparency they want. Adjusting payroll and HR processes is a good place to start.

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