Like most elder siblings, I was both thrilled and envious in equal measure when my younger brother called me up to tell me about the first week of his Masters in Crisis Management (he wants to, and probably will, save the world). The conversation then turned to the job he recently left and he sent me this article; “this I exactly why I quit my job”.
Being a millennial myself, I have no idea whether society has ever been so obsessed with the characteristics and downfalls of one generation, but it really feels like everyone has a lot to say on the matter. If you type millennial into Google, you’ll see what I mean. You could fall down an internet rabbit-hole for 50 years reading all the content that has been written on the topic.
The clichéd attacks on millennials are endless… but include:
- Millennials can’t invest in property because they spend too much money on avocado
- Millennials are narcissists
- Millennials won’t move out of home
- Millennials will only work somewhere with bean-bag chairs
There are plenty of other millennial myths that, quite frankly, I don’t have the time to list but you can read them here.
What is refreshing about ‘What Most Bosses Get Wrong About Millennials’ is that Finkelstein neatly captures where companies are going wrong, without being overtly accusational:
- Many attempts by companies to accommodate Millennials in the workplace are superficial
- Fundamental change is needed to the structure of jobs and careers
- Companies should rethink the value of long-service and their perception of loyalty
- Smart bosses understand how to harness Millennials who favour self-development and ambition over salary
As much as I hate encouraging a vast generalisation of a single generation, you cannot escape the fact that those who have entered the working world within the last 5 – 10 years have different expectations. Businesses who do not attempt to understand changes to accommodate a new generation cannot conceivably survive the next decade unless they make changes, and quickly.
When my brother took a role at an up-and-coming tech company in London, he literally said the words ‘I don’t care about the money, I just want the opportunity to learn and grow’ and he really meant them. Having been in the workforce a little longer, I can see how these words would be misconstrued by an out-of-touch hiring manager: ‘Great! Ambitious talent, no salary expectations! Win win!’
On the contrary, he was asking for something of much greater value than money. He wanted them to commit and invest in his personal development: opportunities to learn skills, understand the wider context of the business, make new and meaningful connections, and learn from those working above and beside him.
As soon as he sat at his desk, the reality was quite different. He worked alone most days because his team failed to communicate when they’d be working from home; he received little to no feedback and never once had a 1-2-1. The company itself worked closely with a number of not-for-profit organisations, but the lack of context to his day-to-day made the work monotonous and dull. You can label him as an entitled, lazy millennial all you like, but he made his terms of employment clear and they failed to deliver. Seems pretty simple to me.
Maybe it could be millennials who are ‘ruining everything’ or maybe… brace yourself… what employees are asking for has changed. Surely we didn’t expect things to stay the same forever? As Finkelstein writes, some of the world’s most successful super-bosses, such as Ralph Lauren, have learnt how to harness the energy of enthusiastic millennials and have therefore redefined what staff retention means to their business. When they started treating their talent right, through ‘personalised and intense employee development’, they attracted even more talent and in the long run, actually ended up having more loyal staff anyway.
Instead of resisting innovation and change, and blaming a broken structure on millennials’ obsession with expensive vegetables, use it to drive your business forward with new ideas and exciting staff development which will ultimately benefit your organisation in the long run. Even if your office already has lunch-time yoga, bean-bag chairs and a ping-pong table, we could all look a little deeper to cultivate a workplace that will educate, retain and inspire our current generation.
By Claudia Bellwood, Temp Consultant, Rusher Rogers
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