“Entitled, lazy, narcissistic, and addicted to social media” – CNBC
“Touch to manage…entitled, narcissistic, self-interested, unfocused, lazy” – Simon Sinek
“Entitled, lazy, and just not fit to live” – Scott Hess
“Selfish, uninvolved, unmotivated, pampered narcissists” – Keevin O’Rourke
WIDELY and constantly bashed for taking selfies and oversharing, Generation Y, most commonly known as Millennials, have become the most talked about age group. These 20-something-year-olds fell victim to mass generalization of always being on their phones, having a short attention span, and being plain flaky (as a result of their inability to commit). While some of the above stereotypes might be true, Millennials are also the generation that brought us Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, and Snapchat. Regardless of whether you love, hate, or love-to-hate Millennials, you will have to deal with them, as they will represent 50% of the workforce population by 2030 and 75% by 2030.
Millennials are individuals born between 1980 and 2000, right at the turn of the century. There are currently 80 million of them in the U.S.; they are the most ethnically and racially diverse generation and are known to be socially conscious and open-minded. Simon Sinek, a British/American author and motivational speaker, talked about Millennials in his interview with Inside Quest. His response to the Millennial question was so incredibly accurate, that the video has gone viral overnight with over 5 million views on YouTube. Below are summaries of the four main reasons as to why they behave the way they do:
- Gen Y kids are the first to grow up with helicopter parents, overbearing, overprotective moms and dads who always hover around their kids in attempts to control and micromanage all aspects of their lives. They fight with teachers for honors classes and coaches for participation trophies alongside telling their kids they’re special and that they can have anything they want in life. As a result, their kids grow up completely missing the fact that only hard, persistent work can lead to a significant result and that there is no reward for coming in last. Sinek claims that once Millennials enter the workforce and face these hard facts of life, their self-image shatters, “and so we have an entire generation that’s growing up with lower self-esteem than previous generations,” he says.
- Millennials grew up with social media. Constantly counting and monitoring texts, likes, comments, swipes on five or six different social media platforms as part of their daily routine. This kind of social validation is addicting as it releases dopamine, a hormone responsible for excitement (also released when we smoke, drink, and gamble). Consequently, such dependency impedes one of the most important social skills an individual can possess: the ability to form deep, meaningful relationships. This also means that now Millennials habitually turn to their devices, as opposed to real people, when stressed.
- Instant gratification and Millennials have become almost synonymous. Think of same day delivery, binge watching, swiping right for what seems to be an infinite number of potential partners and 24/7 customer service at your beck and call. Gen Y-ers grew up with having every one of their needs satisfied. The inner conflict that is facilitated by such mass availability of immediate rewards occurs when the 20-something-year-olds get jobs and realize that it takes time to climb the corporate ladder…or that job satisfaction doesn’t just appear after one month. Impatience is one of the biggest flaws of this generation.
- The corporate culture that is currently in place is one of the worst environments for Millennials, according to Sinek. “We’re taking this group of amazing, young, fantastic kids who were just got dealt a bad hand. It’s no fault of their own. And we put them in corporate environments that care more about the numbers than they do about their kids. They care more about the short-term gains than the lifetime of this young human being,” he states. He stresses the fact that this kind of environment does not help Millennials overcome the need for instant gratification or teach joys of fulfillment you get from working hard on something for a long time. It’s the companies’ responsibility to adapt and change in order to get the most out of their Millennial employees.
Many companies have taken the context about Millennials provided above and strategically used it to revolutionize their offices in order to appeal to this generation. According to Forbes, some of the top most desired companies by Gen Y-ers, are Google, Walt Disney, Apple, and Buzzfeed. On average, Google receives about 2.5 million job applications*. This kind of popularity and hype means that you, as an employer, have the ability to choose among the top talent in your industry. And that is a powerful tool.
Below are some of their tactics and practices that make a company appear desirable to a Millennial.
Empowering Your Employees
Millennials value autonomy (not to be confused with individualism) and question authority. Empowering them, allowing them to create their own roles, and encouraging them to find their own ways of doing their job will only increase their performance. Good bosses and supervisors don’t micromanage and provide as much creative freedom as possible i.e. flexibility in hours and location. Many of these companies have a trial and error policy that allows their employees to make their own mistakes and lets them fail in small tasks. This is believed to prepare them for more important projects. Lastly, and most importantly, these companies trust and believe in their employees. They encourage their brilliance and give them the space to excel in anything, anywhere.
Team Work = Great Work
Millennials absolutely thrive in a team environment and love to stay interconnected. They are tech dependent and so are always oversharing details of their lives. Use this trait to your advantage and implement Slack, Facebook, and all other social media outlets in bringing your teams closer together. Encourage them to socialize in and out of the office through open, collaborative spaces and non-work related social events. Doing so will also reduce the distance between Millennial and non-Millennial workers and foster close interpersonal relationships.
A Place with a Purpose
Millennials place much greater value on meaning over money, all of them want to work for a place with a greater purpose. This means their jobs need to be fulfilling and in support of their personal values and morals (be environmentally friendly, socially conscious and impactful). Google helps people navigate the internet, Apple innovates personal electronics industry, Disney brings happiness to kids. These companies actively encourage their employees to go above and beyond for the greater purpose of the company. They also reward the employees with experiences, free food, and time off rather than a hefty and often considered impersonal check. Truly study what motivates your Millennials and fixate on that.
Check back for Part II of the blog on How to Deal with Millennials in the Workplace
*according to kissmetrics blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/googles-culture-of-success/
Written by: Aliya Serikpayeva