Understanding Millennials and the Generational Gap Created in the Workplace

Millennials. The word is fairly controversial. Are Millennials lazy and entitled or are they helping to assist positively towards the innovative rapid ascent of workplace technology? There are a variety of stigmas and stereotypes which represent the Millennial generation. While some may criticize this generation and others may not, one thing is certain: by 2020 Millennials will make up one-half (1/2) of the workforce. Whose job is it to adapt and integrate this generation: the generation itself, or the employer? Is this generation even fully understood?

Simon Sinek gives his unique spin on Millennials in the workplace and discusses the reasons he believes contribute to their mindset make up. Sinek focuses on four (4) different areas contributing to the Millennial mindset:

  • Parenting. Today’s Millennials expect reward and entitlement, i.e., receiving participation medals for coming in last place. This has lowered self-esteem and has put filters on realistic expectations.
  • Technology. This is used as a form of affirmation, giving Millennials that surge of dopamine, similar to a drug and/or alcohol addiction. Millennials unconsciously utilize technology as a coping mechanism for stress. This main-stream addiction has created superficial friendships and has limited the generation from establishing deep meaningful relationships.
  • Impatience. Millennials need instant gratification, i.e., Netflix-binging and Google research. Based on their impatience, it becomes challenging for the Millennial generation to feel satisfied and/or fulfilled within their career, e.g. it takes time to develop a skill, however, Millennials want to see results immediately.
  • Environment. Millennials are being placed in corporate environments where the focus is on present numbers and not the future long-term. Lack of quality leadership in these environments is failing this generation and causing them to believe they are the ones at fault.

Sinek comments during the discussion that “this is what we got and we as a company now need to pick up the slack” in reference to adapting Millennials into the workplace culture. Per Sinek, companies who fail to adapt to this new generation will eventually only be hurting themselves.

You can view Simon Sinek’s full discussion here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hER0Qp6QJNU

How do companies with multiple generations integrate and bridge this Millennial gap in the workplace? Listed below are four (4) ways in which employers can help to adapt to the Millennial generation:

  • Mentor. Millennials were raised in hyper-structured environment with definitive guiding forces. Consistent and frequent mentoring and/or coaching satisfies this need.
  • Collaborate. Presenting Millennials with an overview of a task or project with deadlines and procedures allows them to excel in an environment of unchecked information and brainstorming.
  • Measure. Quality feedback and measures of success push Millennials to feel their work is meaningful.
  • Motivation. Encouraging Millennials to offer ideas and to speak up helps to motivate them and allows them to feel as though they are part of a team.

It is also critical to note that Millennials are not the only generation struggling to adapt. Kristina Dietrick, President and Owner of Creative Business Solutions (“CBS”), has recently spoken to several different organizations, including CoreFirst Bank & Trust, KU Endowment and members of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (“NRECA”) regarding generational differences and its impact on the workplace. Michael W. Kahn, a staff writer with NRECA, recently published an article focusing on Kristina’s presentation:

https://www.cooperative.com/public/news/Pages/co-op-board-generation-changes.aspx

For more tips on how to address generations in the workplace, including training, please call CBS at 785-233-7860. We would be pleased to assist you and your organization with any other HR issues your business or organization may be experiencing.

Sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hER0Qp6QJNU

http://www.businessmba.org/integrating-millennials/

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   Mark Wheeler
   President
   Berlin-Wheeler, Inc.
 

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