1. Leadership
  2. Women in Business
  3. Managing
  4. Strategy
  5. Personal Growth
Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.
Lead Your Team Managing

Despite Skeptics, Millennials Taking Control At Work

Despite Skeptics, Millennials Taking Control At Work Credit: Young employee image via Shutterstock

The youngest generation of employees is starting to work its way up the corporate ladder, a new study finds.

Research from assurance, tax, transactions and advisory services firm EY discovered that over the last five years, 87 percent of millennial workers took on management roles, versus 38 percent of Gen X workers and just 19 percent of baby boomers. That's a dramatic shift from the previous five years, when only 12 percent of Gen Y (also known as Millennials) employees took on leadership roles, compared with 30 percent of Gen Xers and 23 percent of boomers.

Despite the increase in younger workers becoming managers, their peers aren't totally sold on their abilities. The study revealed that 80 percent of employees think Gen X workers are best equipped to be managers, with just 27 percent feeling the same about millennials.

The research shows, however, that most think all millennials need is a little more seasoning.  More than half of those surveyed believe Gen Y leaders will be effective managers come the year 2020.

"While it’s encouraging that millennials are expected to significantly grow their managerial skills by 2020, the onus is on companies to also give them equitable opportunities to gain the right mentors, sponsors, career experiences and training to capitalize on this optimism," said Karyn Twaronite, the EY Americas Inclusiveness Officer and a partner of Ernst & Young LLP.

With the three different generations of employees now fully entrenched in the workplace, researchers said it is becoming increasingly more difficult to manage that generational mix. Specifically, more than three- quarters of the supervisors surveyed said managing multigenerational teams is a challenge.

The top challenges those surveyed are dealing with include different work expectations and a lack of comfort with younger employees managing older employees.

The research shows, however, that nearly 70 percent of those surveyed work for an employer who has made some effort toward alleviating the challenges, such as work style accommodations, team-building exercises, generational differences training, cross-generational networking and tailored communications.

Twaronite estimates that more than 60 percent of the entire Ernst & Young workforce are millennials.

"In response, we've taken a proactive approach to managing the evolving generational mix in our business, from hosting firm-wide webcasts on generational differences and similarities, to tailoring our recruiting, talent development and communications practices to best appeal to an increasing millennial population," she said. "Investments like these are a prerequisite for building high-performing, generationally diverse teams."

The study was based on surveys of more than 1,200 cross-company professionals that were evenly split among millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.