By Wiss Associate
If you’ve been working for quite a while, you know how things went when it came to accommodating new generations in the workplace. The newbies watched and learned from their wise elders, creating informal mentorships. Recent college grads paid their dues and worked their way through the ranks before gaining more authority.
That’s how things have worked since … well, forever. And then came the digital age, and the balance of power tilted.
These are millennial times
A huge number of American workers were born between 1982 and 2000. This so-called millennial generation – whose members are in their late teens to early 30s – became the largest generational segment in the U.S. labor force as of 2015.
Millennials were raised with computers, Internet and think they know those things pretty well, because they do. Their parents’ generations – the Generation X and baby boomer crowd – weren’t involved as intensely in the digital age. The result is a new divide in the workplace driven by technology.
You probably already employ millennial workers, and their numbers will continue to grow. That’s why it’s important to understand how millennials think and work.
Same clock, different results
The over-40 crowd knows when a workday starts and ends and are used to working within the structure of a set workday timetable.
Millennials may be equally ambitious, but have grown up with technology that allows them to work from anywhere at any time. As a result, many enjoy a work timetable that is flexible and less defined than a traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. day.
Millennials’ lack of structure doesn’t signal an absence of discipline, it’s just a different work style. You should maintain the same high standards of accountability for millennial workers as you do for other employees and let them prove they can get just as much done from home as they can in the office.
A cautionary tale
What happens if you don’t take steps to accommodate millennial workers? Take a local 50-person accounting firm that was run for decades in what you might call “old school” style for example. The dress code demanded suits, ties and conservative office attire. Long hours were expected, Saturday appearances were a given and the network could only be accessed from the office – so employees could not work from home.
After the last tax season, an astounding 20 percent of the firm’s workforce called it quits — and most of those employees were millennials. The departing employees felt the business owner’s work rules were too rigid, and because the economy had improved, they could find more amenable cultures elsewhere — and they did.
Incorporating a new generation
Your millennial employees bring energy, passion, and enthusiasm, the same as your other employees. However, their style is just different.
So what can you do to best accommodate millennial workers? Stay flexible. Focus on results, not working styles. Trust that your employees of all ages can get the job done their way unless they prove otherwise. If you do these things, you can reap the benefits of hiring and retaining young, talented workers for your organization.