Intergenerational Differences and Loyal Millennials
Millennials in our intergenerational workspaces are accused of being narcissistic, hard to manage, lazy, entitled and not loyal to their employer. And whether these behaviour traits are true or not (and I don't think they always are), Millennials are changing how we all work and how employees are hired, motivated and rewarded.
Millennials are loyal, hard-working employees when they are treated well. A recent 'Millennials In The Workspace' study we conducted at BMC identified that 65.38% of our Millennial participants would prefer to stay with one company for at least 5 years. Their top needs to be satisfied at work were (after salary):
- Doing interesting work
- Being respected and valued
- Their efforts being recognized by their peers and superiors
- Feeling they were making a difference
Unfortunately, 50% of the participants in that same study expected to change jobs in the next 2 years or less. That tells me leadership skills have to change. Leaders in intergenerational organizations have work to do when it comes to hiring, motivating and retaining hard-working Millennial employees.
When Millennials Do Get A Job - Expect Change
I believe Millennials bring more +’s to the table than –‘s. That said, I am the fist to say some Millennials have to clean up some behaviours - like their writing skills. Sadly, one of the big intergenerational challenges many Millennials face (and the easiest way to sideline their reputation and success), is sloppy spelling, punctuation and sentence structure.
When Millennials do get a job they are comfortable with quick moving, flat organizations – while Boomers are used to hierarchy. When Millennials were kids, they went to their coach or teacher when they had a question. At work, if their boss isn’t available they will innocently move up the ladder (or sideways), to ask the next best person. In addition, they'll also likely have Googled the question so will already have a second opinion that they'll want to include in a discussion about their question.
When their supervisor says to do XYZ, Millennials immediately think “Why?” This is not confrontation or questioning authority, experience or leadership skills. They simply want to do what is best and learn from the experience. The challenge is that Boomers are not used to explaining every decision (and may see requests as confrontation).
One of the generational differences Boomers and GenXers have to accept is that Millennials are less interested in title and competition and much more interested sharing expertise, responsibilities and success. They were brought up in a collaborative environment and thankfully – they want to keep this structure going.
Since they were children Millennials were learning and engaging from morning to night… that is how they were raised. Most organizations expect (although not formally document), employees to check and answer email throughout the evenings and on weekends. So, what is the big deal if your employees get to the office at 9:30AM? Chances are, they were answering email all night – and all morning. So, business leaders have to put aside seeing everyone in the office at 8AM and be OK with a 9:30AM… or 10... as long as their work is getting done.
How To Manage Millennials At Work
As mentioned above, Millennials are good at change. Many realize they will have to change... and they will be highly motivated when they see change is a two-way-street.
Millennials come with all of the new age technology and many lived social experience that employers want. They are hard workers, as long as senior management stop being ‘the boss’ and enjoy demonstrating their leadership skills and being their mentor. Leaders and mentors give guidance and direction – they open doors and coach – and that is what Millennials want.
Millennials want to be social at work. This means being friendly with co-workers and checking social media at work.
Leaders have to get used to a smartphone on their desk where Millennials will check their social media accounts from time to time. That flexibility helps leaders retain engaged, smart and committed employees. But flexibility and respect go both ways - with the ‘give’ from their leaders, Millennials will be happy to ‘give back’. Your request to turn off their smartphone during meetings and conference calls will be met and respected.
Intergenerational Differences Conclusion
When motivated, Millennials are loyal, hard-working and want to have purpose. It’s been drilled into them that if they go to post secondary education they will get a fantastic job with lots of money and ability to make a difference (they want purpose). But that’s not always happening; the jobs are not waiting for them, and for the few jobs there are hundreds of other highly educated Millennials also applying. Let’s face it - people of any generation would be disheartened by this.
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