Ok boomer, we know you like to tease the millennials for their rose gold obsessions, their overpriced avocado toast and their stoic refusal to drive or buy a house. But teasing aside, there can be a rather large generational gap of understanding – especially in the workplace.
When boomers try to hire, manage and retain millennials, cultures can really clash. This is where a Gen X translator, perhaps in the form of an HR consultant or manager, can come in handy. Generation X, shaped by Reality Bites and the rise of the dot com era, came into their careers motivated by foosball tables and free snacks. They understand that careers shapeshift over time and that finding the right fit requires some trial and error.
Nowadays, a flourishing gig economy and the normalcy of working from home supports a short-term job mentality, and this appeals to millennials.
“Unattached to organizations and institutions, people from this generation -- born between 1980 and 1996 -- are said to move freely from company to company, more so than any other generation,” according to a 2019 Gallup report.
Yet it would be a mistake to assume that millennial workers are inherently non-committal or flaky. And it would be an even bigger mistake to miss out on the contributions of this influential and best educated generation in history.
“It's possible that many millennials actually don't want to switch jobs, but their companies aren't giving them compelling reasons to stay,” reports Gallup. “While millennials can come across as wanting more and more, the reality is that they just want a job that feels worthwhile -- and they will keep looking until they find it.”
So, what do millennials want from their workplace? Based on their extensive research, Gallup makes a few suggestions:
Mental stimulation: 59% of Millennials say that opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important when applying for a job.
Higher purpose: Among workers who don't know what their organization stands for and what makes it different, only 30% say they plan to stay on for at least another year.
Manager inspo: 58% of Millennials say the quality of their manager is critical. ‘People don’t leave bad jobs; they leave bad managers,’ has never been more true.
Chance to advance: Half of Millennials (vs 42% of Gen Xers and 40% of Baby Boomers) are likely to say advancement opportunities are extremely important when looking for a new job.
Business owners may find its tough enough to meet the ever-changing needs of customers, let alone employees. And of course, Generation Z is already joining the ranks – a cohort who is even more purpose-driven and conversant with online life – and who share many millennial values. Yet in an era when every company likes to claim that its people are its greatest asset, it might be worth investing some time with an HR consultant to keep your corporate culture fresh and evolving with the times.