Do you know how to manage Chinese Millennials?

Millennials, or Generation Y as they’re sometimes called, are people born in the 1980s to early 2000s. A lot has been written about Millennials in both academia and the media. And often you hear how different they are from earlier generations. But is this true? How are Millennials different, and what implications does it have for management?


If we look at China, Millennials make up a whopping 415 million people, or around 30% of the entire population. And, looking at the workplace, in 2025 around three out of four workers will be from this group.

So what makes them different and what makes them tick?

Generally speaking, Millennials have somewhat different aspirations and expectations when it comes to work and the workplace. Previous generations in China have been very much focused on economic stability, career and securing a future for their family. While 91% of Millennials say family traditions are important, they are also more individualistic and 86% place greater focus on achieving a happy life, rather than materialistic trappings. (Source: Prof. Dr. Han Zheng, 2018)


Only 47% of Millennials say that they would agree that work is a central part of their life, and as many as 82% say that they would leave for another job if they could. In fact Chinese Millennials born after 1995 only last an average of seven months with their first employer.


How to manage Chinese Millennials?

It’s clear that attracting, managing and retaining Chinese Millennials pose more of a challenge than for previous generations where pay and career growth, coupled with stability and prosperity have been the key.

So what can management do? While you shouldn’t have to change everything to accommodate what is after all a subset of employees, there are some things that makes Millennials tick and facilitate managing and retaining talent.

  • Millennials value flexibility in the workplace, so companies that can offer this have an edge.
  • They want to be inspired to trigger their creative side, so if you as a manager can act as a source of inspiration and knowledge it will make your life easier.
  • Furthermore, Millennials have a strong sense of equality, so building an equal opportunities workplace with transparency will help in retaining talent.
  • And while 75% want a mentor at work, only 25% feel that the company supports their development. So, having more senior staff act as not only managers, but actively and vocally taking an interest in their development can give your company a leading edge in developing and nurturing the talent of the future.

These are some things that you can think of.