Should Millennials Suck it Up in the Workplace?
Are you struggling to understand the Millennials in the workplace? Do you think the Millennials need to suck it up and adapt to our culture? Heck, we have been successful with our business model for years. Who do they think they are to try to change it?
I used to think this too! I am a Gen Xer business owner, with decades of experience in IT and finance, and the Millennials have shocked me! My initial reaction to the Millennials was that they need to grow up, suck it up and adapt to the business world. As I hired Millennials, I found I also had to fire Millennials or they left.
I started talking to clients about the Millennials and the stories I heard were crazy. One executive told me a story about a new hire that met with the CEO during an interview. The Millennial asked the CEO, "what are my opportunities for advancement here?" The CEO said, "Well I am not going to work my entire life, so work hard to learn the business and you could have my role."
Six months after being hired, the Millennial walked into the CEO’s office and said, “Okay I am ready.”
“Ready for What?” responded the CEO, who had been in the business for 30 years.
“For you to retire.” I would have loved to see the CEO’s face when he heard that.
Where did these entitled, spoiled kids come from and when will they get it? The more stories I heard the more intrigued I became. I started researching the Millennial generation. After reading all the books I could find, I interviewed executives, managers and Millennials. One of the books I thought very informative was, The Millennial Myth: Transforming Misunderstanding into Workplace Breakthroughs, written by Crystal Kadakia, a Millennial. Even my favorite author, Simon Sinek, who wrote Leaders Eat Last and Start with Why, is discussing this topic. (Simon Sinek's Millennial Video) But, as with every good topic, there are two sides of the controversy and according to Jared Buckley, a Millennial, Mr. Sinek is over generalizing. Jared Buckley's blog
What are your thoughts? Do you find understanding the actions of Millennials confusing? Maybe you think they should just suck it up? Do you only plan to hire those that, “get it”? I thought that too, until one day I had an epiphany. The Millennials are too massive of a generation to ignore!
In the US, the generations break down as follows from the book, Managing the Millennials by Chip Espinoza and Mick Ukleja. (Discussion by the authors)
80 Million Boomers - (born 1946-1964)
- Influencers: Vietnam, Cold War, Civil Rights Movement, Rock and Roll
- Values: Professional Identity, Health and Wellness, Material Wealth
- Identity is their work
61 Million Generation X – (born 1965-1979)
- Influencers: Gulf War, Challenger explosion, AIDS, increased divorce rate
- Values: Mobility, autonomy, independence, balanced lives
92 Million Millennials - (born 1980-2000)
- Influencers: 9/11, terrorism, Columbine Shootings, Technology
- Values: Diversity, Work with Purpose,
- Most educated and technological savvy generation
The Boomer’s identity is greatly tied to their work. They value material things and understand the hierarchy of authority. They currently make up most corporate executives, but they are retiring at a rapid rate. See Bloomberg article on retirement rate.
Next came Generation X, smaller in number, only 61 Million. Gen Xer’s came into the work place trying to change corporate cultures. Gen Xer’s wanted work/life balance. They wanted to work from anywhere and have flex hours. Gen Xer's were called the latch key kids, because they came home to empty houses. Their parents worked long hours and they learned to fend for themselves. Gen Xer’s value family time and pushed organizations to change. But, the number of Generation Xer's was so small compared to the Boomers. So they didn’t have enough mass to dramatically change the behavior of corporations. Many Gen Xer’s eventually adapted to the work world that was established. In many professions, Gen Xer’s realized their success and survival was determined by their own actions, and they played along with the competitive environment of survival of the fittest.
Now comes this massive generation of the Millennials, 92 Million strong. They were raised by much more nurturing parents who read Dr. Spock. Millennials were encouraged to work in teams growing up and everyone received a trophy. They were always given a path of success and told they personally could change the world. Their high schools often required volunteer work to graduate and they liked making a difference. They saw people like Mark Zuckerberg, who almost overnight become a billionaire and figured they could too. Millennials didn’t call adults Mr. or Mrs., they called them Pat, Bob and Michelle. They never experienced life without the internet and information at their fingertips. Technology has always been a part of their lives. They laugh at their parents and managers that don’t understand technology.
The Big Difference
The big difference in the Millennial Generation is their sheer number! They are 92 million strong in the US. That’s 34% bigger than the Gen Xer's. Add to the situation, that he Boomers are retiring at an increasing rate. By 2025, three out of every four people in the workforce will be a Millennial. Yes, we anticipate that the Gen Xer’s will be in the executive office of most corporations, but if they don’t figure out how to understand, attract and retain Millennials they will not have the top talent. Millennials will also be the largest generation purchasing our products and services. If we don’t understand the Millennials and attract them, how do we expect to sell to them?
The Millennial train is coming and you can choose to jump on the train and be the conductor, or you can ignore the warning signs and be run over by the train. It’s your choice! How committed are you to the success of your department or organization? Are you willing to look at things from a different perspective? Are you willing to learn and adapt to the Millennial mindset?
It’s been my experience that we have a lot to learn from this amazing generation. They think differently, they challenge the norms and they want to make a difference. Similarly, they are eager to learn from us. We just need to learn how to communicate with them and not get defensive. Management needs to be open to change. We need to communicate goals, set expectations and listen to their opinions on how we can succeed.
Are you ready to take your organization down a new road? Ready to become an industry leader by creating a culture that attracts Millennials?
Is now a good time?
Want to Learn More?
The Millennials are currently the largest single generation in our workforce. You think you don’t need to deal with it, they just need to suck it up. Well, you need to understand that this massive generation will change how we work, think and collaborate. The Boomers are retiring and by 2025 Millennials will make up 75% of our US workforce. Not only will they dominate the employee ranks, they will also be the people buying our goods and services. By ignoring the Millennials, you will be jeopardizing your organizations future! But don’t worry, I am here to help you learn what I learned the hard way.
Complimentary Millennial Training
As an executive coach, I feel it is my duty to help every organization create a Millennial friendly culture. To help you, I have created two Millennial training programs. One has an IT focus and one has a Finance focus, because those are my worlds. If you are not in IT or Finance, no worries, I promise you will learn something you can leverage immediately to attract, understand, retain and inspire top Millennial talent.
The future of your business may depend on understanding Millennials. So, act now!
For more information and to register for one of my training sessions click the button below.
I have added a few date and time options, but seating is limited so register today!
If you missed my first blog on Millennials click here: Understanding the "Why" of Millennials.
If you have a great Millennial story please reach out to me. I would love to hear it and share ideas how you can handle the situation. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org