Updated: Dec 2, 2020
If you were born in or before the 70s chances are you've heard [*cough* or said *cough*] some pretty bad things about the millennial generation (those of us born between 1981 - 1996). The fact is Millennials have a negative reputation - we're said to be lazy, overly opinionated, self-entitled brats. The negative stigma is so strong, I've actually listened to my colleagues bash millennials in casual conversation to my face ... mmhm, the hate is that real.
There's no doubt our generation is challenging the norms; we aren't beat for the same working conditions and social structure the baby boomers (those born 1946 - 1964) put up with. For example, 20 years ago employees were expected to work long hours, put themselves as a parent second, and women quietly took backseat to men. Now, there's no way I'm missing my son's weeknight baseball game to read your email about a policy update... nor am working myself into a slumber logging 50 hours week after week. This is not to say I won't bear the extra weight on occasion to help my team finish a project, but it can't be a regular thing.
There are 3 key factors Millennials need in their work environments today for them to successfully complete their assigned tasks:
1. Flexibility - This is the big one. When it comes to working, flexibility is definitely a deal breaker - I want to be successful in my career and a rockstar mama. I shouldn't have to choose between dominating my industry and raising great kids. This also goes hand-in-hand with a great work/life balance. We want to work hard (and well), and play hard which means our employer must be willing to adapt to our changing schedule just as we adapt to changing responsibilities.
2. Honest Wages - Our age is constantly used against us, giving the impression to our older counterparts that we are inexperienced and lack expertise in our field. However statistics show we are better educated. According to the Pew Research Center, "Among Millennials, around four-in-ten (39%) of those ages 25 to 37 have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with just 15% of the Silent Generation, roughly a quarter of Baby Boomers and about three-in-ten Gen Xers (29%) when they were the same age." It comes to no surprise but this education isn't free; paying off our student loans leave most of us in a financial bind, making it increasingly difficult to contribute to retirement plans, grow our personal savings accounts and dip our toes into ownership. Employers have to stop overlooking our education when it comes to our salary and dish out our true worth.
[Pew Research Center Article here]
3. Direction - Although we can figure it out on our own, we want to know the company is invested in our growth and potential. Surveys show when millennials have regular meetings with their managers about their progress, and have a clear (but flexible) succession plan they are more likely to stay with an organization. It boils down to no one wants to feel like a number. Show me you value me on your team, because I made a serious decision choosing to work for your organization.
As a Millennial, I experience constant challenges in my work environment and thankfully, I work with a leadership team who understands times are changing. They notice I operate a little differently than they do, and they are willing to accommodate my style. Unfortunately, this is not the case for most organizations. The reason behind this is change is hard; the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers in the field are hesitant (and a bit grumpy) about the new kids on the block coming in and moving things around. The one thing we all must remember is we have to evolve. Standing still only keeps us in an era when the culture surrounding your office environment was toxic, and employees were limiting their potential. It's no longer a world of "if it ain't broke don't fix it"... now it's "work smarter, not harder".