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Generations in the Workplace – The Millennial Perspective

So I have to talk about something that I have seen a lot of different articles about over the past few years. Specifically, those regarding the Millennial generation in the workplace today.

While there have been numerous publications about this topic, only a few are truly positive, most others are decidedly negative. Yet somehow in one way or another, all of them claim to know what the Millennial generation truly wants from the Corporate World in regards to their respective careers.

However, there are some truths that are missing from these various media sources. It is those missing truths and misconceptions about Millennials that have motivated me to write this piece.  First, in the interest of full disclosure, I am not a Millennial.  However, I do have many professional friends who are Millennials, and I have grown tired of seeing them constantly being portrayed negatively, and/or being put on the defensive by various media sources.

Now, let’s take a look at some points that are at the very heart of this conflict:

  • It’s Only an Illusion

Yes, it is a fact. As a group, Millennials often see the truth of a situation better than any other generation in the workplace so far.

For example, Corporations continue to offer hollow perks with the intention of masquerading their companies as a good place to work. They offer pizza parties, various lame reward programs, and other so-called incentives.  However, the catch is that they expect a person to work well over 40 hours every week with no overtime, and in most cases they only provide a measly, low pay grade as well.  Yet all the while the Executives and upper Management reap all of the true rewards and bonuses from the extra efforts of the staff.

Well, the Millennials just don’t buy into that game the way previous generations did. They are not willing to sacrifice their lives for a soulless Company that will just toss them aside when it is convenient.  So, when the Corporate establishment encounters this perspective, it strikes fear into the very core ego of the Corporate world itself.  In that the Corporation is not the be all, end all, as it likes to think it is.

In effect, this direct challenge to the very center of the Corporate world’s operating system then causes the business world’s ego to throw a tantrum like a spoiled child who realizes that they are no longer going to constantly get their one-sided way. It is this very realization by the Corporate world that is causing much of the negativity toward Millennials in the workplace today.

How so? Well, Corporations see a significant shift coming and of course, they do not want to give up their greedy, selfish ways.  So they spin negative comments about the Millennial generation as a whole in order to distract the general public from the real issues (just like Congress, really).

  • They Call it as They See it

Let’s face it, in most businesses today the people in Leadership & Executive roles just don’t get things done properly. There are some exceptions, but these are very few and far between.  Many actually have no clue what goes on in the real working world within their respective companies.  This is the reason why TV shows such as Undercover Boss are the true representation of reality television, and so effectively portray what happens in most of those environments.

That said, Millennials crave real leaders with vision and determination. They don’t want to have to deal with some fool who is only in the Leadership role simply because it was handed to them by a bunch of other Managers that are only interested in maintaining the status quo.

To that end, Millennials are not afraid to challenge the establishment and point out the fact that Management is behaving stupidly. This causes more friction as it again strikes at the ego-center of the Corporation.  However, in this case it is from the perspective that Management does not always have the company’s best interest in mind, and that Leadership does not always know or do what is best.  However, clearly most (but not all) Corporate leadership does continue to delude itself into believing that it knows everything and that their decisions are the best.  So the conflict continues.


Course Corrections – Righting the Ship

Now, what can the current Corporate world do better when working with Millennials? Quite a bit actually.  Although much of it will be difficult as it does require changing the core mindset across the spectrum.

Here are just a few points of necessary action:

  • Dear Leaders – Get Over Yourselves!

Yes, it is true, you don’t know everything, and you never will. This is a lesson that most individuals in Corporate Leadership positions still have to learn.

Unfortunately, it is the workforce that has to suffer for the delusions of those in authority. Now, to be fair, not all leaders are like this.  But again, those leaders who do not operate under an ego-centric mindset are rare.

So what can be done here? Well, in order to prevent the corruption from power, a professional must always be on guard against manifestations of the ego.  Take the time to really listen to other’s perspectives, and keep yourself open to the discussion of optional courses of action.  Remember that true leaders are there to inspire the members of their teams, and not to simply force them to do your bidding.

Finally, always remember that maintaining this mindset is a never-ending exercise. You must always be watchful to ensure that you do backslide into destructive behaviors.

  • Don’t Sell Snake Oil

Most Millennials will see through double-talk, sugar coating, and empty promises right away. So, to all businesses everywhere, don’t think that you can pull the wool over their eyes so easily.

Now, it is true that many companies/Managers out there will continue to try, and you may succeed at it occasionally. However, please note that the truth does not stay hidden or buried for long, and you will face severe repercussions for the deception.

Talk is cheap, and one of the hallmarks of the Millennials is that they seek true value, not what is cheap and easy. So avoid the conflict and just be up front and honest, as it will be better for everyone.


Final Thoughts

The Millennial generation brings a decidedly different perspective to the workplace. They see things that could be better, and are not afraid to speak the truth about it.  The other generations in the workforce should strive not be resentful of them, but instead embrace the new perspective.

After all, the Millennials truly do have the world’s best interests at heart.   They have learned from the past, and one of the things they really want is to simply make the business world a better place than how they initially found it.

Be well.

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