Millennials are infiltrating the workplace like never before.
As a person on the cusp of Gen X and Gen Y, I am used to being the “young person” in the office surrounded by Generation Xers. But now that more Gen Yers (or Millennials) are entering the marketplace, the whole workforce must adjust. I often find myself on the border, being used to identifying with Gen Xers, but having an unspoken synergy with my younger Gen Y professionals.
Close relationships with my younger siblings have taught me an incredible amount about what it really means to be a Millennial. My youngest sibling is 15 years younger than me, and I feel blessed to be able to have an inside view of what is going on in American high schools and colleges. I’m fortunate to have inside access via unfiltered conversations with my siblings as we have done life together, even while bridging a significant age gap.
As I watch my younger siblings navigate the marketplace, look for jobs, and determine which line of work to go into, I’ve learned that there is a significant difference between the way that Gen X and Gen Y view their professions.
- Lack of Hierarchy Matters— Millenials are seeking a truly flat structure. Snobs are out. Inclusiveness is in. Particularly in the workplace it is essential to give young workers direct access to managers, superiors, and CEOs . Millennials don’t do well with hierarchical relationships in which there are impersonal barriers, or expectations of a senior dumping work on a junior employee.
- Relationships Matter— even with raging individualism of the West, young people still look for community and relationships in interesting ways. A solid group of friends is something everyone longs for, and this is no exception for Millennials. In the workplace, being able to relate to co-workers is equally important.
- Technology Matters— Duh. If you don’t text your Gen Y colleagues or connect with them on social media you might as well not exist. Many Millennials are more open to having a conversation on social media than they would be face to face. This builds trust and crosses the impersonal barrier which often exists in the workplace.
- A New Form of Individualism — American Millennials still embody the rugged individualism of our culture, yet are looking for those close relationships and inclusive community. Showing even a little bit of interest in “really getting to know” a Millennial communicates volumes.
- Generosity Goes a Long Way. In a generation of people who have been raised with everything, small acts of kindness and generosity have a lot of impact. A person who is willing to give their time and possessions away to another person, makes a big impression.
For those of us on the generational border, we have an opportunity to help Millennials feel at home in the workplace.