How to manage the workforce of the future

Millennials are coming of age and streaming into the workplace, transforming company cultures around the world.

These young people have a lot to offer businesses: they’re highly creative, social, technologically savvy, environmentally conscious and ambitious.

On the other hand, they’re also impatient with ‘old-fashioned’ nine to five work days, manual offline processes and hierarchical management structures. Millennials are challenging the status quo, and some organisations may find them tricky to manage.

There’s no avoiding them though. Given that millennials are expected to comprise 75% of the workforce by 2025, the sooner you prepare your company for their impact, the better. When it comes to HR and payroll for example, millennials have some non-negotiable expectations.


The workforce of the future likes getting things done quickly. They’re easily frustrated by business processes that prevent them from managing their own work schedules. Applying for leave is a classic example. The standard process involves email requests and waiting for confirmation from the HR department. Millennials don’t see the point and would rather just manage their leave themselves.   

This is one reason why automated, self-service HR and payroll systems are so popular with the younger generation. They can book their leave dates online and the system will automatically alert their managers to review and approve the requests. It’s a quick, efficient and transparent process that gives employees more autonomy and control. Another benefit of a self-service system is that it allows employees to access their tax certificates, complete performance evaluations and capture expense claims without waiting for someone to get back to them.


Millennials grew up in the age of the Internet. They are used to having information, and technology, quite literally at their fingertips. This makes them somewhat impatient. They don’t want to have to chase people for answers; they want quick and easy access to information at all times.

For example, if an employee is confused by his nett salary one month, they’ll want to immediately access their latest, and previous, payslips to review the breakdown of deductions. A self-service payroll system makes this possible. There is no misinformation or delay in access to information which helps avoid any misunderstandings and disappointment.


Millennials want to work in a way that suits their lifestyle. This means being able to travel more should they want to, or working from home more often if they have a family. To keep your employees happy, you have to give them the flexibility to work remotely. Fortunately, there are lots of business tools that enable this without any negative effect on your business.

A cloud-based payroll system means that remote payroll management is also possible. With information stored in the cloud, all your employees and managers need is an internet connection to access the system. Different time zones and locations won’t matter: your staff can work from home after 6pm, or be in the office at 7am, or travel abroad for a conference – wherever they are, they’ll be able to plug into the HR and payroll information they need, when they need it.

Career development

Nothing is more off-putting to a millennial than a dead-end job. This generation is ambitious and impatient to progress. They don’t want to be micro-managed in a role with no future, they want to be mentored and grow. A good performance management system that offers them a clear personal development path and review process is critical. Millennials want to be fulfilled by their work – and the happier they are in their jobs, the better they’ll work.

To facilitate this, you can give your employees and managers access to an online performance journal that they can add to all year long. This means that come appraisal time, the review information is relevant and not simply gathered at the last minute. Short-term monthly or quarterly goals are also far more constructive than setting distant objectives. This allows you to check-in with your employees at regular intervals, and provide ongoing guidance and support. An electronic performance appraisal system also enables you to run an accurate 360-degree feedback process, so all your employees will feel satisfied with the level of feedback they’re receiving.  

Adjusting your business’ payroll and HR processes to ensure you are effectively managing millennials in the workplace isn’t difficult. Simply ensure that you have a system in place that caters to their needs and gives them the flexibility and transparency they value so highly.

Bruce van Wyk is the Director at PaySpace.

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