A daily routine that includes continuously scrolling through Instagram, sipping kale smoothies, drinking Starbucks coffee, hitting the gym, and hanging out with friends, while still managing to fit in a full day of work is most-likely a Millennial.
Millennial. The four-syllable word that makes thousands of Generation Xers roll their eyes and cringe at the so-called “entitled” and “privileged” group born after the 80’s.
Not all, but most Millennials share the features of a short attention span, an obsession with social media, and a love to socialize. Although this may drive a crowd of Generation Xers to angrily grunt in agreement, from a managerial-perspective, these aren’t negative characteristics. In fact, they are actually valuable elements of a workplace.
In order to be an effective manager, as with all employees, it is important to understand the Millennials in the workplace. Clearly I have a different daily routine as them as I hardly scroll through Instagram and don’t think I could even get through an entire kale smoothie. I started to wonder that if even our daily lives are so different – how different are their expectations and interests in the work that they’re doing?
After discussing with the Millennials that I work with, they’ve explained to me their main priorities and interests. I believe it’s important to integrate these things into the workplace and foster an innovative environment for both them, and myself, as I know that I have a lot to learn from them.
From what I’ve gathered, Millennials’ priorities include: hanging out with their friends, finding a work/life balance, being passionate about the work they’re doing, and using social media to connect with people.
In my experience, these often overlooked interests allow Millennials to be valuable assets in the workplace. Millennials are conditioned to immediacy and will find solutions to get work done quickly and efficiently, with the ability to do several things at once. They are fluent in media, and natives of the digital world, creating innovation in technology. With constant posting and use of social media, Millennials are naturals in communications and marketing. They foster cohesiveness and team-building in the workplace. They thrive on community and naturally build it within a workplace.
Unlike many of us Generation Xers, Millennials aren’t as interested in climbing the ladder or making mass amounts of money as they value these other priorities. Some may not be interested in becoming a leader or gaining status whatsoever. They may be simply trying out different positions for the sake of having new experiences. It’s important to ensure that they are passionate and interested in their work, and that they aren’t doing repetitive, boring tasks. Some of us have spent years doing jobs for the sole purpose of getting a promotion or making money. To those born in this new generation, they focus on pursuing their passions, and focusing on the present.
Most Millennials grew up in a contented environment, where they were given independence from a young age, not under strict authority. This translates to giving millennial workers lots of independence and creative freedom in the workplace. Rather than constantly correcting, or giving strict guidelines, allow them to work on projects where they can implement their own ideas and strategies.
Millennials are conditioned with an ethical value system that Generation Xers weren’t naturally exposed to. Surrounded by ethnic diversity, planet-saving initiatives, socio-economic rallies, and an overall environment that strives for equality, Millennials are aware of the social responsibilities of the companies they work for. They have a balance between their need to excel in their work and their ingrained moral ethics.
Ultimately, we all have a lot to learn from the Millennials in our workplace, and they have unique perspectives that should be heard. Acknowledge and understand the differences you have, and incorporate them into the workplace to create a challenging and thriving environment.
By Wael Hassan and Tessa Barclay