Millennial Translations

Millennials. The elusive generation typically pegged as non-committal, entitled, and all about coffee bars in the workplace. While on the surface, you could say some of that is true, but we need to dive in a little deeper on what those stereotypes truly mean. As a small business owner, who heavily depends on its people, how do you use this job-jumping, freedom-loving population?

According to Pew Research Center, Millennials have officially surpassed the Boomer generationas far as our presence in the workforce, so understanding Millennial employees is vital to business success. Below are some translations of the stereotypical traits mentioned above to help switch the mindset and start utilizing your Millennial workforce and their true potential. Mentoring between employees of different generations is something companies may want to consider because it hits on collaboration for the Millennials and helps provide perspective on generational differences.
Non-committal = Freedom collaborators
Seems like an oxymoron. We want to be able to look at processes and culture with a new perspective and be in a place where those ideas are considered and acknowledged. We also find fulfillment at work by collaborating with co-workers to complete a project, goal, etc.
Entitled = Ownership
We are proud of the work we are doing along with its potential impact. So, when we come off as entitled to some, it is merely taking responsibility for the work we are involved in. Let’s face it, the day to day of work can be incredibly taxing, so celebrating or acknowledging the small stuff can be important in keeping conversations going and initiatives moving.
Office Coffee Bars = Work/Life Merge
So what’s the deal with companies spending money on fancy coffee systems, ping pong tables, and napping pods? Technology has allowed us to become connected to work 24/7. This is great for a number of reasons, but it also has blurred the lines between our work and personal lives, which is why you are seeing an increase in these kinds of perks in the workplace. This allows for permission to take a brain break and come back with fresh eyes instead of sitting in the same space for an elongated time in front of the problem we are trying to solve. Taking a break and switching focus helps prevent burnout that can come easily with having work and personal worlds so intertwined.
The workforce is evolving, so businesses have to follow suit. Embracing the differences between generations can open up opportunities and innovation for companies. These differences can be bridged through mentorship, collaboration, and ongoing conversation. How are you going to evolve your business so it can keep up?
Lindsay Fisher is a Millennial and the Director of HR at Oak Leaf Management.