You’re a Millennial and you’re young, hip and doing things your way. You’re connected, open to change and you’re shaping the world through technology. Everything is going great…except that you work with OLD PEOPLE.
It’s a very plausible scenario that employers could have employees in the workplace who drastically range in age from 18 to 80. So what’s the problem with such a wide age range in the workplace? Well, for starters, think about just how much in common you have with your grandparents. Clearly, this has huge implications for employers in terms of managing the needs and expectations of a range of generations that encompass Millennials (1979-1991), Gen Xers (1964-1978) and Baby Boomers (1948-1963). And don’t forget about Generation Z, those who are under 16 years old and will soon be entering the workforce.
So why is there such a drastic age range in the workplace now more than ever? Many people put off retirement for a number of reasons. Some may retire early, quickly become bored and jump back into the workforce. Others re-enter the workforce to stay active, for financial need or to keep their mind sharp.
Millennials who refuse to understand and accept the differences between themselves and older generations are missing out on some incredible learning opportunities. Likewise, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who make no attempt to understand what motivates Millennials are also neglecting to see the strengths that the younger generation brings to the workplace.
“Millennials aren’t the future…they’re the NOW,” said Dr. Jim DeLung, president and CEO of DeLung International.
Committed to the development of effective leadership and inspiration to organizations, DeLung is a successful researcher and speaker who focuses on the unique challenges and opportunities posed by multi-generational workforces.
“On average, a Millennial will keep a job for just slightly over year,” DeLung said. “So my question to business leaders in your organization is, what are you doing better, more of, or different to retain this generation of employees?”
According to DeLung, many companies train new managers to treat all employees the same, regardless of age, race, culture, ethnicity and gender.
“That is stupid,” DeLung said. “Different people communicate differently. Still don’t think so? Let me ask this…do you think that men and women communicate differently? Now we’re getting somewhere.”
“People are not the same,” DeLung added. “We are not all the same. Everybody has different needs, wants, desires, passions, motivations and interests. What business leaders forget is that they’re running an organization that is made up of teams and groups, which are all made up of individuals.”
“As a leader, it’s worth the time to teach, train, coach, mentor and move Millennials throughout your organization,” DeLung said. “That’s leadership.”
So what can Millennials and Boomers learn from each other? A lot actually.
According to a recent Forbes article, Millennials are adept at building communities around shared interests, they are team players who encourage team spirit, are eager to offer ideas and listen to the ideas of others, and often dedicate their time and talent to social issues. All of which are good for corporate America.
Forbes also noted that Millennials can mentor more senior staff on things like the use of social media, while senior staffers can coach their younger colleagues on the most effective ways to engage with people when meeting face-to-face —a key skill even in today’s increasingly digital world.
There’s no question that Millennials have a lot to offer the workplace. Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials have much to learn from one another. It benefits everyone in the workplace to embrace and understand generational differences and take advantage of what they each have to offer.
DeLung concluded, “We respect our employees enough to recruit them, hire them and train them. So at what point in our careers are we going to respect them enough to retain them, no matter what their age?”