We often hear people complaining about millennials.
“They’re lazy, selfish, and entitled.”
I look around at all my friends. I have a friend who went to the same university with me, she worked at least 4 part-time jobs at one time to support her siblings’ expenses and gather her startup funds, and she never missed any classes. I also have a friend who has a day job and still works as a freelance beautician after her working hours to earn more incomes and widen her connections. Another friend of mine secured a job right after he graduated from a local college since then he bears the family’s electricity bills, water bills, parents’ insurance premium, etc.
What do they have in common? They are millennials.
“Nah. Three of them are unique. Most millennials aren’t like that.”
Do you remember? In the last two decades, there are a lot of complaints about the Gen X too. Those days, the Gen X was characterized as slackers, cynical and disaffected. (When I was a child, watching those TV shows criticizing about the Gen X, I could foresee my generation would experience even worse.) Look at today, many successful young leaders are from the Gen X.
So, is it really about the generations? Is it fair to label the whole generation?
I believe regardless the generation, there are always people who are positive, hardworking and brilliant, and also people who are not.
As millennials are becoming more ubiquitous in the workplace, instead of complaining about them, we should be leveraging their experiences and passions to make the businesses work better — to iterate, to improve, and to innovate at every level.
To leverage on millennials’ strengths, firstly, let’s figure out millennials’ characteristics.
Millennials are the most educated generation group in history.
While possessing a college degree doesn’t always mean we are smarter, but as most of the millennials went to college before, we are more exposed to the latest knowledge, tech and market trends.
Most of them believe in life-long learning. They won’t be satisfied with working as a middle manager for the rest of their days. They crave new knowledge and first-hand experience. They are focused on personal growth, and unlike older generations, they don’t think their education is done the day they have graduated from college.
That is why most millennials don’t want to get things done ‘just because’. I heard some people complaining about their fresh grads employees don’t like to do filing. They shared with me the importance of filing documents, so I asked “Did you share with the fresh grads staffs?”, all of them shook their head.
If you could share your experiences on how filing documents have benefited you, they might change their views and would start doing it properly. Or they might actually have better solutions to manage the documents. It is known that the millennials like to get tasks done in the most efficient, least time-consuming way possible and squeeze out the max results. You should give them a chance to share their ideas with you before judging them.
Millennials don’t live to work.
“They refused to work overtime.”
Actually, forcing anyone to work overtime is unethical and illegal. So, if a millennial refuse to work overtime without compensation, he/she is protecting his/her right. No one deserves to sacrifice their personal time every now and then.
However, we understand in every business, there are circumstances that employees are needed to work overtime. Find the solution at the next point.
Millennials are energetic and passionate.
Being young, millennials are full of energy. If they find their passions, they can go all out to pursue their passions. They don’t even mind to sacrifice their sleeping time for their passions.
So, it’s very important to trigger their passions toward works. Take a few minutes to read this article if you need guidance: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/alison-a-quirk/put-millennials-passion-to-work_b_5662791.html
Millennials want to do things that are meaningful in life and to the society.
Many millennials are very concerned about the community welfare. They love to make the world a better place. If they could create a positive impact to the society with their works, they would be very devoted.
Assigning millennial staffs to organize an outreach program or create a gift pairing policy not only give you a channel to be more engaged to your young employees, it also builds a positive brand image for your organization.
For the Seniors
You can’t avoid hiring young people to join your team anymore. Let’s focus on empowering millennials, communicating with them to innovate the business together. Acknowledge their efforts and accomplishments can also keep them more content and productive.
A shift in how you perceive and communicate with millennials will help you attract savvy, motivated people who can make your company stronger and smarter.
Respect your seniors in the workplace because they have been through more experiences than you. Be humble. They will teach you a lot if you set your attitudes right.
Besides, value your works and start taking charge. Always remember, you are what you’ve done, not what you think you can do. Show your capabilities by putting your efforts to make things happened. If people judge you by your age, let’s prove them wrong!