In the workplace, it’s sometimes easy to spot the generational gaps that can occur when 20-somethings are mixed in with 30- and 40-somethings. It can be as subtle as an overheard conversation among senior managers about the “entitled” Millennial generation, or as in-your-face as high turnover rates for junior positions. Once companies face the facts – that Millennials are the future of our workplaces – how can those companies work alongside this restless, driven generation to ensure a mutual future success?
First things first, the Millennial generation as a whole doesn’t necessarily deserve the “entitled” label it has been stamped with (insert sweeping defense of entire generation of people here), yet it’s not so hard to see how others may get that feeling. The generation is full of go-getters and Type A strivers who have been raised to change the world, fix all of its problems and achieve excellence in everything they do. The pressure is on for them to reach their maximum potential. Because of this, one of the best moves companies are making to meet the needs of Millennials is to challenge them, give them the opportunity to prove what they can do and then acknowledge success where it is achieved. Millennials want opportunity, and while it must be worked for, it’s very important that it is obtainable.
Flexibility is another factor that can cause a divide in the workplace, but many companies have noticed and are taking huge measures to adjust their work culture for all employees. Most often, everyone works hard, they just work differently. Millennials typically believe in working smarter, instead of longer, and with less importance placed on where they’re working from. Work-life balance can be a struggle for everyone, so the move towards flexible work times, working from home, setting up virtual offices and providing more vacation days are all factors that benefit and unite employees across the board.
It’s also important that this tech-savvy generation be allowed to stay connected throughout the workday. This doesn’t mean they need to have their noses in their phones texting all the time, but they do need access to social media channels to feel comfortable and informed. Many are in the habit of getting news and even forming business relationships over Facebook and Twitter, which a few years ago were considered purely social. While there are still those companies that completely block social media sites, those who allow access have discovered higher productivity and happier employees.
As companies continue to move towards meeting Millennials in the middle, the future of work is taking shape. Have you experienced any work culture differences among generations? What do you think should be done to maximize productivity and achieve the highest quality of work life?
Geri Butner is a public relations professional, freelancer and social media guru in Boston. Connect with her @geributner.