How do we integrate millennials into the workforce?
Millennials. The word itself is loaded with meaning, as it attempts to generalize an entire population and generation by making it easier to encompass the habits, the way of life, and how they, we, grew up. As a millennial myself, I grew up seeing my various peers through the years embody many, but not all the characteristics of millennials. To sum up my millennial upbringing, I’m old enough to remember what slow or lack of internet was like, but not young enough where childhood was filled with smart technology at every corner. Other characteristics and motivations of the millennial generation can be summed up in an article by Guido Stein, “Nine Tips for Managing Millennials.” Without going into the nine tips, the strongest themes in the article were the need for purpose, strong company culture, and opportunities for learning and development. Without a doubt, these characteristics are things that people in general look for, but millennials will look at these as more important than even the monetary incentives. There is more to the story of Millennials, but why is it so important to understand how to manage and work with the up and coming generation? According to Stein, “by 2025 millennials will make up 75% of the world's working population.”
It is easy to forget that when putting labels on people, that the label, itself, is not completely definitive. The same is the case with putting on the Millennial garb, millennials are susceptible to the same tendencies and habits that those before us had. Sure there is a concentration on certain issues and a bit more attunement with technology, but we still dream, we still socialize, we work, and we are still trying to find our purpose in life. Professor Holly Schroth, a Distinguished Teaching Fellow and Senior Lecturer at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, emphasizes that millennials similarly want to be respected and heard (“voice”) in the workplace. Different from the previous generations of Boomers and Gen Xers who had the upbringing of automatic respect and obedience to authority, Millennials know that to get obedience and respect it must be earned. In fact, Professor Schroth mentions that Millennials initially respect authority, but will lose it if the respect is not reciprocated. It oddly sounds like a certain universally taught rule. The Golden Rule. A rule that across cultures great numbers of primary schoolers are taught in school as we grow up. Treat others how you want to be treated. Millennials are not simply a subject to study, we are people that just want to be included in a conversation and understood at a deeper level. We are the result of an upbringing of the past generations that wanted something different for their children.
As mentioned before, purpose, culture, and personal development are huge for millennials. Millennials will work hard for your company if you give them the big picture. Be genuine, be clear, be transparent, and be inclusive. The great argument is that millennials are spoiled, but every young generation is claimed to be like that: rebellious, anti-establishment, radical. Ultimately, that generation over time eventually becomes the new establishment. What it boils down to is that priorities are just mixed up. Even for people in general, it’s about guidance, mentorship, and relationship building. In other research papers by Professor Holly Schroth, she goes over negotiation and influence principles that emphasize the importance of communication. This communication stems from being more in tuned with one another. Simple things like the who, what, where, when, and why of reasons, of projects, or of decisions, will clarify the foggy road and will even show that most of those in negotiations are teetering along the same lines. Also, millennials obsession with personal and professional development is a good sign. A generation of people that are trying to find ways to improve themselves is more telling about the generations’ long-term focus than anything else. In the end of it all, millennials are only different on the surface level than other generations, what’s important is to address the deeper level concepts, which are things that all people, of all generations and culture, combat and deal with everyday. So that leaves the question outstanding, will you work with or against the tide (of workers)?
Stein, Guido. “Nine Tips for Managing Millennials.” Retrieved from Forbes.com
Holly Schroth, various works