Lazy. Impatient. Addicted to technology.
We’ve all heard these terms used to describe Millennials in the workplace. If you listen to other generations talking about Millennials, it may seem as if this generation has no redeeming qualities. But just like when the Greatest Generation accused Baby Boomers of being long haired hippies and the Boomers accused Gen X of being cynical, Millennials are fighting a stereotype that doesn’t hold true.
Each generation brings its own strengths and weaknesses to their jobs, and understanding these strengths and weaknesses can help you bring out the best in your employees, no matter their generation.
Boomers embrace structure and Xers seek stability
As the longest standing generation in the workforce, the post-World War II Boomer babies brought a strong work ethic and an appreciation for structure and process. They view their careers through a traditional lens – a means to provide where employment stability is valued. Unlike Millennials, they don’t need their work to always be “meaningful” as long as things are stable. Their love for structure also makes them resistant to change, especially related to technology. Boomers are the least familiar generation with emerging technology and are typically skeptical about the latest innovations. Just for fun, ask a Boomer if they think self-driving cars are a good idea.
Gen Xers grew up during the gas shortage of the ’70s, came of age in a post 9/11 world and bore the brunt of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Is it any wonder they’ve been accused of being cynical and disengaged. However, Gen Xers are more than happy to work independently and flexibly, and as the generation most affected by the recession of the early 2000s, they also place a high value on stability.
Millennials are changing the workplace
By 2020 Millennials will make up more than forty percent of the work force consultant Lindsey Pollak told CNBC. Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, with ever-increasing access to technology, they have information at their fingertips, which older generations may view as impatient. Millennials have an appreciation of human interconnectedness across the globe and place importance of making an impact on the world. They’re more likely to change jobs quickly, with 71 percent saying they would leave a job within two years if they feel they are not being developed as a leader, according to data from Get Smarter.
Some might see it as a sense of entitlement, but it’s undeniable that Millennials are changing the workforce in ways Boomers or Xers likely never imagined. This tech-savvy generation, social-media loving generation likes to share their experiences and measure their job satisfaction by culture, impact and flexibility before salary and stability.
Balancing the benefits
Doing work that makes a difference is not just a Millennials thing. I recently joined the AdamsGabbert team, and was immediately impressed by our conscious commitment to work-life balance and the resulting increase in morale and productivity.
Every generation has something unique to offer your organization, and we should be tapping into their strengths to set each up for success. By encouraging generations to work together we reap the benefits of well-rounded organizations for our work force from all generations.
Dave is the Director of Staffing & Recruiting for AdamsGabbert (AG), a catalyst for growth, a spark for innovation, and a facilitator of progress. Founded in 1999 and based in Overland Park, Kan., AG focuses on staffing + recruiting, technology services, and consulting—all designed to make business better for their clients. Share your thoughts on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter!