The workforce is getting younger. Workers from earlier generations are either retiring or moving up to higher positions, so millennial employees are taking the posts and roles they previously occupied. At the same time, there is an ever-increasing number of young people entering the job market.
So employers have to get used to dealing with them and the differences they bring to the table. Much has been made of this issue, birthing a whole industry of articles on bemoaning their strange and incomprehensible ways, calling them “entitled,” “idealistic” or “difficult.” But despite the likes of Simon Sinek’s misconstruing millennials, actual research has shown that they’re not different from previous generations at all.
Here’s the lowdown:
They are driven by the same ideals as previous generations
In response to a Forbes survey, Work Effects’ Amanda Kreun crunched the numbers and showed that millennials’ idealism, altruism and drive to change the world… is not unique to their generation, as a similar percentage of those from previous eras had the same optimism when they were the same age.
Moreover, the cliche of millennials being hooked to their screens is also just that, a cliche, as older generations are similarly reliant on the same devices and social networks. So businesses should emphasize their presence in these mediums not for the sake of millennials, but for everyone in general.
In short, strategies that work on millennials will also work on everyone else!
They have the same career goals, too!
When it comes to long-term career goals such as:
- Making a positive impact in the organization
- Helping with societal and/or environmental challenges
- Pursuing work that they’re passionate about
- Attaining expertise
- Maintaining work-life balance
- Reaching senior leadership posts
- Achieving financial security
- And starting their businesses
Millennials, Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers polled nearly-identically, with similar percentages following the same goals. It’s surprising, since all those articles about millenials make it sound like all they cared for were fidget spinners and avocado toast.
How to Lead Millennials… and Anyone, Really
Marcel Schwantes, founder and CHO of Leadership From the Core, writes that leaders who do the following:
- Pay attention to their employees
- Recognize their people
- Offer opportunities for advancement
- Give workers decision-making roles
- Give workers opportunities to help the community
…will run their workers and workplaces more effectively regardless of their generation. And the listed strategies aren’t indulgences for detached incomprehensible youngsters, they’re not demands for water slides or air hockey tables in the office, they’re things any employee looks for in a leader whether they’re in a 20th century office or working remotely through The Cloud.
New Generations and New Roles
Chances are these millennials are going to be your Virtual Assistants, composing your Virtual Teams. Yes, the VA industry isn’t just for young people, previous generations also find the field’s benefits helpful in their lives. But who better to embody the shift away from the traditional workplace and workforce than the millennials whose adaptability makes them uniquely suited for remote work?
Now that they are demystified, you can consider millennials in managerial roles as they combine their modern savvy with the same drives and strengths that made previous generations so successful.
So before making ungenerous assumptions about millennials and younger generations, let’s recognize that people are generally just people… and maybe they haven’t really changed, just the conditions around them. Cost of living has generally risen while in lots of places wages have remained stagnant, resulting in more people taking up multiple jobs and side hustles just to survive. People are now more interconnected, allowing for industries like the VA field to exist, and this also makes people more informed and concerned about a variety of issues – social, economic, environmental, etc. That’s why VBN and our VAs delight in Volunteering Awesomeness, charitable work and acts to give back to the community because wellness is a higher priority than The Grind. It’s why we seek to provide our clients better work-life balance through our services.
Small business and startup owners should shift their focus to appreciate these insights. We can stand to learn so much by taking up a growth mindset. So we can not only understand millennials better but also stay on top of an ever-changing world, since the gosh-darned-whipper-snappers aren’t the only new developments we’ll have to get used to.