Millennials and the Nonprofit Labor Force

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

Adrianne Geiger Dumond


Recently I have had several clients troubled by the lack of teamwork between long-time employees and younger hires. The millennials are younger people under 35, born between 1980 and 2000. They are expected to make up about 75% of the workforce by 2025 ( Board Source Smartbrief, April 20, 2015). The situation can be exacerbated when a young manager is brought in to manage an older work force. These findings make it imperative to allocate resources for building constructive teams that can work together and respect each other.

This is no easy task since each group brings with it values and expectations that are firmly entrenched in their psyches. Millennials are attracted to the purpose and mission of the nonprofit world. But they come with different expectations to the work place. Their values center on finding meaningful work, being respected and praised for their accomplishments, and having a flexible work environment.

According to an article in the above reference and written by Eugene Fram, Professor Emeritus of the School of Business, Rochester Institute of Technology, these are the expectations of millennials:

  • Flexible work space: They may be accustomed to working long hours on a project but often in coffee shops or any quiet place, so expect flexibility in how and where they do their work. Different from past generations, they are not tied to a desk, but carry their work with them. This requires adjustments in scheduling and communication practices when meetings may be called and they aren’t available.
  • Work-life balance: Since they are accustomed to being productive other places than the office, they expect flexibility in family obligations.
  • Informal, interpersonal relationships: They seek to feel like they belong to their work environment, so also seek to know their colleagues better.

( This may be the opportunity for a manager to make sure the staff meets together and begins to feel more like a team. Scheduled lunches together can break the tensions between older and newer staff members,)

Given these findings, it is essential to plan for team building times. Lunch together may not be enough to mollify misunderstandings and resentments that can fester in a work place. One of the tools I have found to be helpful is the use of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). When an older and younger employee can discover they may have the same type, the discovery all of a sudden changes the dynamics of working together. When types are different, the discovery also becomes rich with understanding. The MBTI instrument is a fun and easy way to begin to break tensions in a work group. For more assistance in planning, contact Executive Coaches of Orange County (

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County,