Managing Millennials: How to Handle Their FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

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With increased time spent on social media, the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is sweeping Gen Y/Millennial employees (including myself), as we are exposed to information overload.

FOMO refers to the anxiety created by social media connections sharing updates that leave individuals feeling left out of social situations or feeling that they should be doing more.

Whether it’s a Foursquare check-in from a conference or an Instagram photo from vacation, Gen Y’ers can’t escape the feeling that they are missing opportunities when they are constantly aware of social connections’ experiences and accomplishments.

In many ways, FOMO haunts Gen Y while they try to figure out what they want to do with their lives, creating a sense of urgency that if they don’t move quickly they could miss out.

Managing this generation, also known as Millennials, is already a top concern for many organizations since they will represent roughly 75 percent of the workplace by 2025, according to a BPW Foundation Gen Y study. Representing such a large part of the workforce population, organizations need to be conscious of FOMO so they can properly address Gen Y employees’ behaviors and expectations and harness this mindset.

Maintain constant communication

Managing the FOMO phenomenon starts by increasing the lines of company communication with employees. Keeping a regular 24/7 dialogue with workers is the “new normal” of employee communication.

Making sure workers are in the know and learn of company news directly from senior leadership helps build a strong connection and organizational loyalty for Gen Y employees. This always-on communication might be difficult to achieve at first, but utilizing frequent meetings, employee newsletters and online chats to share news and company updates can help keep a strong line of communication open.

Offering employees more time to connect in person is crucial since work-life balance is blending together more with the help of social media. Colleagues feel stronger connections to one another – and, for better or for worse – tend to know more about each other’s personal lives.

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To capitalize on this increased bonding and help Gen Y workers conquer FOMO, organizations should offer employees more opportunities to socialize and connect. This fosters employee engagement and collaboration with co-workers.

Consistent and immediate gratification

It isn’t a secret that young professionals are used to and expect quick gratification. On Facebook, it might be a like or a comment that fills this need. For employers, rewards and recognition programs can close the gap, providing workers with instant feedback on their work performance and easing any tensions created from the FOMO mentality. Employers should provide recognition on an ongoing basis to build employee engagement and a productive and loyal workforce.

Helping employees cope with FOMO through consistent communication, social engagements and continuous feedback will help companies thrive and can often help prevent Gen Y employees from jumping ship because they think they are missing out on something.

By acknowledging their mindset and professional needs, employers just might be able to keep Gen Y/Millennial employees from contemplating whether the grass is greener on the other side — regardless of what they read on social media.

Ashley Fina is President of Michael C. Fina's Recognition Division and has been involved in the 77 year-old family business for more than 10 years. Headquartered in New York City, Michael C. Fina is a leading global incentives and rewards company specializing in employee recognition for Fortune 500 organizations.


2 Comments on “Managing Millennials: How to Handle Their FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

  1. Good read! I’m all for consistent and SMT recognition (specific, meaningful, timely) but I’m not so confident 24/7 communication and increased social events will have a positive influence on FOMO. As an over-committed millennial myself, being able to sign off work when I leave the office allows me to be more present with friends and family. And I love the social events I have with coworkers, but offering more just creates more things for me to be anxious about missing. A better solution might be to offer social events during work hours, like lunches and team breakfasts. Also, socializing a 24-hour response time window for emails could reduce pressure to respond to everything immediately, which often makes focus on one project impossible. Create a workplace that keeps all employees coming back by being aware of the needs of your entire workforce.

  2. There is no amount of recognition or social connection a manager can give to a Gen Y that is going to compensate for their FOMO tendencies. No matter what we do during the course of a day, we end up miss out on certain things That’s called life. That’s why we watch the 10 o’clock news; to see what we missed that day.

    Feeding that fear is only going to further exasperate it.

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