Millennials at the Workplace- Sharing Space across generations.
Do you interact with millennials at work?
Millennials at work are given many synonyms across the internet so people can understand them better. Lazy, entitled, low on attention span, lack respect, hard to manage, and the list can go on but you would still not have understood what millennials really are.
Millennials are young adults of today’s generation who were born after 1981. This is the only fact about millennials that we can consider true. The rest are assumptions made by a few people which may be born out of observing a tiny sample of the entire population.
Having said that, being a millennial myself, I must admit that we could be quite a challenge to manage at a workplace, it can get quite tedious to understand what we really want, and hence, job satisfaction levels amongst millennials can be pretty low.
This exists due to an obvious gap between the upbringing of the gen X (people born between 60s and 70s) and millennials. The way we consumed the world and understood it while growing up was quite different from the generation before us. In fact, the world itself was different.
Many companies and corporations are led by leaders from gen X, and have to now pass on the legacy to the “impossible” gen Y. How can this be carried out smoothly? How can both, millennial employees and corporations be satisfied, and carry out a business?
Here’s a list of things I think millennials at work and their gen X leaders can keep in mind to achieve a harmonious relationship:
We were born in a time when communication changed course with the advent of cell phones, the internet and social media. Our parents didn’t know much about handling this for us because they never had it growing up. So we are now having a tough time communicating with people and having meaningful relationships. We associate a lot of our happiness (instant gratification) with Instagram, Facebook, etc.
Be sure to not let this continue into your workplace. Keep your phone away. Stay away from social media as much as possible while at work. Don’t carry your phone into conference rooms, try not to keep it on loud for the whole office to hear every time you get a “beep” for a Snapchat notification. These social media tools can be the strength of our generation if we use them wisely and not let them get the better of us.
Dear gen X leaders,
A millennial child was probably not very close to their parents. Obviously with exceptions in mind, we can say for sure that family relationships have taken a serious hit since cellphones were allowed on the dinner table. Due to the information gap between the two generations, it has been hard for them to be convinced of the previous generation’s capabilities in understanding them. Keeping this in mind, consider the fact that your millennial hasn’t had an older person around whom they trust, who really knows them or guides them for a while, or ever.
Take your conversations out of work chats and e-mails. Call them and ask them how they are doing if you know they are unwell, talk to them face to face as often as possible. This is the only way you can teach them the value of relationships. Inspire your millennial, and let them know they have a friend, a guide, and an actual person, as opposed to online bots, they could talk to, if they needed to.
Other than what we may have learnt in school, most of what we know of the world we saw and heard on TV, billboards, YouTube, Facebook, etc. We were exposed to people achieving all sorts of things in all sorts of professions. We want to be that big too and have big dreams we’re afraid will just remain in the pipe. And we want to start working towards them as soon as possible. That’s great! But to expect an entry level job to promote you next to CEO is obviously ridiculous, right?
Ensure your expectations are kept realistic when you enter a job. Express your dreams but understand that they are your dreams and not the company’s responsibility to realize. Every job you do will be a step closer to that dream, but you may not have a shortcut handed to you. Be patient, and understand that changes in a company take time. And most importantly, you are there to learn.
Dear gen X leaders,
These kids want to create impact. But they probably grew up studying something they didn’t want to study, and are now doing a job they don’t really want to do because their parents had no idea of the opportunities that were about to come their way after the digital boom. A social media influencer probably had to spend 5 years doing an engineering course, the loans for which he is still repaying. He is impatient to get more money, to achieve more, and is probably even good at what he does. But will you be able to help him get there?
Be honest during interviews and the hiring process. Don’t promise a raise or a promotion or opportunities that you cannot personally assure. Hiring through false expectations makes an employee feel like they have been lied to or betrayed, and there is little you can expect from a mistrustful employee.
Most companies boast of the number of young people they have in the workforce. Do you know why that is?
We are meant to reflect strong energy for the company. We are young, informed, have access to a lot of things to make a place more vibrant and energetic. Ensure that you contribute to the community and treat your office like your second home if not the first. Express yourself if something about the environment is making you uncomfortable but don’t let any kind of negativity dwell inside of you because it only multiplies, and spreads to others.
The gen X grew up working in an environment without any distractions like the internet or the cellphones. They have a different kind of respect towards their workspace. From their attire to their behavior, it’s a lot more formal and in their words “respectful.” Accommodate this into your attitude at work. Find a way to be yourself without offending those who come from a different time and school of thought.
Dear gen X leaders,
A good work environment doesn’t really translate into a pretty office and a few games to play. It really isn’t. A good work environment is all in the energy. And that isn’t something you get by painting your office with Batman characters or getting bean bags and a pool table. Yes, that definitely helps. But you are mistaken when you assume that it’s all we want. It’s the people that create a good environment, and as a leader it is your responsibility to ensure you are one of those people. And if in your capacity, ensure that the office is filled with such vibrancy. Make your office a nice place for millennials at work.
Physical spaces often have little to do with the mental impact. However, outdoor offices with gardens, and good ventilation have been proven to be much more inviting to an employee. A world which is quickly getting filled in boxes, doesn’t need more offices with cubicles and compulsory air-conditioning everywhere. Offer an option to your employee. Surround your millennials with plants and nature because believe it or not, that’s something we really enjoy, and is definitely applicable to employees across generations.
Dear millennials at work,
This point hasn’t been placed last because it is the least important, but because I wanted it to be the one that definitely sticks on in your mind when you are done reading this. Your health is the most important thing to you, and to your employers. Without your health, there isn’t much you can do. You are young, and your lifestyle may be too hectic for you to pay attention to your body. But do note, that it is easiest for you to fix any problems compared to anyone older. Take advantage of your physical abilities and help a person from the older generation in your workspace. Understand their limitations and step up to extend your support whenever possible.
Prioritize your health, both physical and mental. Most employees are unable to perform because of mental health imbalances. Do not hesitate to take time off and figure your mind out if you need to. It is always better to do that than staying on board and not doing a great job because you’re mentally elsewhere. Express your grievances to a trusted person at the workplace, and seek help if you need to.
Dear gen X leaders,
As mentioned in the earlier points, these millennials have had a confusing upbringing. In the process, they have ignored a number of things which includes their health. Ensure your millennial is healthy, and that you are providing the right environment, support and facilities for the same. There is no point in having your company appear in Forbes every other month if you cannot provide proper healthcare facilities for the lives that work for it.
Organize drives at the workplace for basic check-ups, eye-tests, tests for STDs, blood tests, etc. Companies that do this ensure loyalty by a large margin. Many cannot afford this. But the least you can ensure is that your workplace is not causing any damage to the employee’s health. Create a clean, healthy environment, encourage work from home or sick leaves in order to avoid spreading of germs, etc.
More than physical shortcomings, many millennials suffer from mental health problems. In a world operating on instant gratification, lack of good meaningful relationships, and a constant competition for more likes and followers, our minds were subject to a lot of unfiltered content at an innocent age. We are groveling for something meaningful, and most of us feel the only way we can have that is by traveling to the Himalayas and things like that.
Your millennials need to have you or someone else (preferably a professional) they can come to for help when they are battling such things.
Happiness is a long shot, is what most millennials think. Job satisfaction doesn’t seem likely either. It makes most of us want to quit, do our own thing, or not stick around in places for long. But with a joint effort, work can be more than just a job, and happiness can be more than just a word.
Sources: Huff Post