The Millennial Whisperer

Millennials In The Workplace

Baby Boomer? Gen X'er? Millennial? Today's workplaces are multigenerational, and in this week's episode, we seek to understand the much-maligned Millennial generation. Could having millennials in the workplace help us build a better place to work? Chris Tuff, author of the national bestseller "The Millennial Whisperer", is our guest, and will share his strategies and advice! We Discuss The Following Topics Surrounding Millennials In The Workplace:

  • Generations defined and a closer look at the generational gap in the workplace.
  • A deep-dive into the impact of millennials in the workplace.
  • Different millennial stereotypes and how to manage this generation.
  • What millennials want and need from leadership.
  • The generational gap and what allows ALL to survive.
  • The millennial leadership assessment.

Chris has also been kind enough to share a FREE DIGITAL DOWNLOAD of The Millennial Whisperer with ProjectHR listeners! Thanks, Chris!

Chris Tuff


"For the first time ever, you've got a generation that will walk unless you start meeting them on their own terms."

Looking for more content around generational gaps in the workplace? Try this article about Gen-Z employees.

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Generations Defined

  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964
    • Loyal employees;
    • Feel privileged to have a job, are willing to put in the work and time to get a pension and earn a “gold watch”;
    • Often difficult for them to recognize/endorse workplace trends of younger employees (job-hopping, etc.);
    • Often have difficulty demonstrating vulnerability in front of employees;
    • Ideologically, however, what Boomers are looking for is not that far off from what Millennials are looking for.
  • Generation X: Born 1965-1980
    • Often more of a differential between Millennials and Generation X;
    • X’ers believe “you never stop working” -- working late is social currency;
    • They experienced big recessions (both firsthand and through their parents), so they believe it’s up to them to earn their keep in the world; 
    • They “drop their feelings at the door”;
    • Loyalty is high.
  • Millennials: Born 1981-1996
    • What are they looking for? Pay & benefits (like everyone else), but also a positive work culture and work flexibility;
    • Really more like two different generations under the Millennial name, based loosely around when they adopted technology and when the recession of 2008 hit them/their parents;
    • The older “Oregon Trail” Millennials – had beepers, not cellphones in college and experienced the 2008 recession firsthand, in the workplace;
    • The younger “Snapchat” Millennials – were given smartphones as tweens and experienced the 2008 recession via their parents.
  • Generation Z: Born after 1997

The Impact of Millennials

  • It’s a two-way street: there are certain things that Millennials can learn from Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers and vice versa.
  • For the first time ever, you’ve got a generation that will walk unless you start meeting them on their own terms.

Millennial Stereotypes

  • “Lazy”, “entitled”, “needy” – and there’s an element of truth in all!
  • All human beings have a need for connection: to fit in, to be loved and to be accepted – and for the first time we have a generation that is looking for these things at work, the place where they spend the majority of their days.
  • That Millennial need for connection is often satisfied with workplace rewards and recognition.
  • The fact of the matter is, Millennials ARE a product of “helicopter” parents and “participation trophies”, but they are also a product of what social media has done to ALL of us – we are all fueled and recognized by social media likes, etc.
  • As a result, for the benefit of Millennials – and all of us, really – leaders need to create an environment where there’s an underlying feeling of empathy and caring.

What Millennials Want from Leadership

  • Inspirational leadership
  • Autonomy
  • Transparency
  • Continuous Learning

What Allows Generations to Thrive

  • It’s The Culture, Not The Cereal Bar! 
  • Connection is critical – follow your people on social media to foster/create that connection. Also: conduct monthly one-on-ones with your people – can be fifteen minutes, can be five minutes, ask them how they are doing. 
  • Without building these kinds of connections, your Millennials will quit.

The Millennial Leadership Assessment

  • Much of “The Millennial Whisperer” book focuses on leadership.
  • A leader’s ability to be inspirational can be difficult for that leader to assess – that’s why Mr. Tuff developed The Millennial Leadership Assessment in conjunction with Vanderbilt University.
  • This assessment is a critical element used in Mr. Tuff’s corporate workshops.


Chris Tuff: Backstory

  • Degree in Human and Organizational Development from Vanderbilt University
  • Began career as a Copywriter (and then Founder and Trendspotter/Sunao Department) at Moxie Interactive

  • Currently serves as the EVP, Director of Content Marketing and Partnerships at 22squared


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