No, I’m not talking about the tussle over the last donut in the break room; I’m referring to the struggle between the up-and-coming Millennial generation and the already established Baby Boomers and Generation X. Along with this generational diversity in the workplace comes a host of characteristics and behaviorism that would cause dissension among any group of people.
The Millennial Generation is currently considered the largest population, next to the Baby Boomers. The actual date range of the Millennial generation is from 1976 to 1996. Some of the stereotypical characteristics that define this generation are that they are the most educated, ethnically diverse, and technologically advanced group. They are loyal to family and they use technology as a social medium.
In the workplace, they are very optimistic, they take pride in their contributions, they are confident, overly competitive, and embrace diversity. It is assumed that Millennials are more likely to believe that if they are not happy in a job, then they don’t need it.
According to Time, They love casual Friday’s (or any other day), they don’t value a traditional 9-5 workday, they aren’t all about money, and they love transparency. For all of these reasons, employers sometime see Millennials as very “flighty”. Unlike previous generations, Millennials value happiness over retirement security. So, how do we overcome these stereotypes in the workplace?
Because money is not a driving force in the life of a Millennial, too often it is assumed that they don’t care about their work performance. In order to mitigate this school of thought, Millennials must be willing to step outside of their comfort zone and perceived natural instincts to do what is best for the working relationship. Here are some tips for how Millennials can successfully work with other generations:
- Use timelines – Boomers, particularly, are typically sticklers for time and really appreciate it when you respect their schedules
- Be professional – This includes writing professional emails (no abbreviated words), not texting during meetings, and dressing appropriately. It is important to show that younger employees do have workplace etiquette.
- Communicate – Communication is always important between colleagues of any type.
- Understand the differences in working styles – Simply understanding the differences, can help eliminate misunderstandings.
- Concentrate on similarities, not differences – Any relationship thrives on having something in common with the other person. Workplace relationships should be no different
- Learn from each other – The Boomers and Gen X have been around for a while. The Millennials should use this an opportunity to take it all in and learn from their experiences.
By alleviating stereotypes in the workplace, we can produce an environment that is conducive to the needs of all the generations involved. Remember that as with any demographic grouping, all the stereotypes never apply to all of the members of that group. It is extremely important to go into any new work environment with an open mind and the realization that every workplace is going to be different. In the end, the actions and characteristics of a person are more often than not shaped by their environment and life experiences.