Millennials and GEN Z -who are they and what do they mean for your manufacturing business?

Even if you haven't already come across the terms Millennials and Gen Z, chances are you already have some of them working in your manufacturing business.

Gen Y, Gen X, Boomers, Millennials – there are a lot of buzz words in the media to describe what is basically a multigenerational workforce – one we can all relate to. Even if you haven’t already come across the terms Millennials and Gen Z, chances are you already have some of them working in your manufacturing business. With employees frequently working past the old state retirement age, and with younger generations with a very different outlook on life entering the workplace arena, there are inevitably some differences to contend with for business owners and managers.


Managing a multigenerational workforce is not for the fainthearted, but these newcomers have an abundance of skills and attributes to offer to the right employer. So, how can you harness their skills and get the best out of them in the workplace? Knowing who they are and what drives them is the key. And in this article, I’ll look at two of the main (and youngest) groups to establish their key motivations and what they bring to you, the employer.


Millennials, also known as Gen Y, are the generation born between 1981 – 1996. Although they have been much maligned by the media (Time Magazine published an article stating that Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists) don’t be put off! They have some great qualities to bring to the workplace. These qualities include boundless energy and enthusiasm. Millennials are motivated to learn and embrace the novel, so they are excellent at getting on board with new technologies and innovative ideas. Raised with technology, they are wired to look for efficient ways of doing things – they will happily suggest better ways to manage your Cloud filing, enhance your website or even improve your broadband access! They can help breathe new life into projects and are well-known for challenging the status quo. Although they may seem disruptive at first, their requirement for the new and innovative means they can help propel your business towards new success. Keeping them on board means providing constructive, timely and concise feedback to acknowledge their contribution, alongside a clear career pathway so they can see how they can develop their skills in your company. Treat them well, train and develop them – and they will grow with your company to become the talented and loyal senior employees of tomorrow.


Gen Z are those born between 1995 and 2015, with the older members of this generation just entering the workplace. They have many similarities to Millennials – and recent reports suggest that 77 per cent of Gen X would prefer a Millennial manager rather than an older supervisor, implying that they feel most closely aligned to Millennials in terms of their ideals and preferences. However, they have some differences too. Even more high tech than their predecessors, Gen Z are hyper-connected, with a drive for new technology. Therefore, keeping them on the cutting edge is crucial to maintain their interest – they are the ideal candidates to involve in new projects and technology such as Artificial Intelligence in your workplace, as they have the enthusiasm and the skills. Also critical to Gen Z is better work-life balance, so flexibility where possible will see greater retention rates for your business. Although they have a passion for all things technology-related, this generation still crave the human factor. So, providing regular face to face meetings, a high level of support and positive leadership is the key here – check in with them regularly to keep them on track and motivated. It’s also worth noting that both this generation and Millennials are more motivated towards self-learning – so online training platforms are ideal to allow them independence and encourage their thirst for knowledge. Finally, both Millennials and Gen Z embrace diversity and inclusion -seeing the benefit of diverse individuals in terms of background, education and culture as an important element to creating a successful team.


There’s no getting away from the fact that even if you don’t already have multigeneration teams, they are on their way! Managing them requires good leadership. By understanding what motivates each group; what drives, inhibits and inspires them in the workplace – you can enable all your team to work cohesively to achieve new heights of success. Embracing the diversity that multigenerational teams offer means utilising the different attributes of each individual – so what demotivates one group may be inspirational to another. Diversity creates a melting pot where you can encourage all your employees to use each other’s strengths and create a positive working environment for everybody.