One of the key arenas where generational differences collide is in the workplace. Often older employees view younger colleagues as being less committed and lacking a good work ethic. While in some cases this is definitely true, often conflicts arise from different workplace expectations. Let’s look at three of them.
1. Flexibility. Millennials want flexibility in work environment and hours. A traditional work expectation was to show up at a particular work location from 9-5 (or some other designated time) and be paid for those hours. The emerging employee expectation is to be paid for work completed. If it can be done at 10:00 p.m. at a local coffee shop, great. If it can be completed in 6 or 7 hours, rather than 8 or 9, all the better. While some types of jobs do require a person to be in one place at a specific time, those companies that can find ways to provide whatever flexibility possible will stand to retain happier Millennial workers.
2. Freedom. The Cisco Connected World Report states that 1 in 3 young professionals under age 30 prioritize social media freedom over salary when choosing to accept a job offer. Freedom to check an Instagram feed or text a family member is not the only freedom many young adults expect in the workplace. Freedom to give input or unleash creativity in a project of their choosing, even if they are young and inexperienced, tells them they are respected. This can contribute to their participation in and commitment to the organization. Along with freedom, however, many desire (or need) the feedback of supervisors or mentors to help them navigate choices effectively in their organizational context.
3. Friends. Millennials value work-life balance. That means that family, friends and fun often come before work…even if there is a really important deadline! Since the recession, many of them have seen loved ones lose jobs after years, even decades, of faithful service. They will not prioritize companies that may let them go, at the cost of relationships that will endure. Workplaces that understand this and find ways to support this value will go far in achieving satisfied employees. Millennials also appreciate when friendship and teamwork are fostered in the workplace. Organizations that allow space and time for employees to connect with one another in healthy collaboration and team building will reap the benefits of cooperation and synergy.
If we are honest, most of us can appreciate the factors Millennials desire in the workplace. We enjoy the same things. However, many Millennials demand them. The Future Workplace Survey reports, 91% of Millennial (1982-1995) employees don’t expect to stay more than three years at any given job. The cost of turnover related to this statistic is significant. A few changes to organizational culture, even if they cost some money, are well worth it if they increase employee retention. This year, Millennials officially became the majority of the workforce in America. Organizations cannot afford to ignore their perspectives, preferences and input if they hope to maintain a committed, effective workforce in the years ahead.
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