What We Can Learn From Millennials

As we sat down for a nice, leisurely lunch, my friend and I subconsciously laid both of our phones atop the silk white tablecloth. Technology is almost an addiction for “millennials” – those of us born from 1982 to approximately 2002, so much so that we can’t even eat without a device. Instead of acting like the “ultimate millennials,” my friend and I exchanged our devices for some foreign face-to-face conversation. It’s certainly not unusual to see young professionals with tech devices and, because this is annoying at places like restaurants, our millennial generation can get a bad rap.

Setting my lunch story aside, millennials are on the cusp of remembering a time when technology didn’t exist. No iPhones, laptops, or social media; forget the one-click apps that reserve a table at the coolest restaurant. One professor elaborates, “Because they’ve grown up multitasking on their mobile, iPad and computer, I can’t expect them to work on one project for any amount of time without getting bored.”

From millennials being too dependent on parents – though it’s true that more of us have lived at home post-graduation – to those feeling entitled to undeserved raises, many employers’ complaints only continue. We’re the kids who always won trophies – even for last place – and, as a generation, are described as “so close to their parents that they haven’t been given the chance to learn how to do things by themselves.” Some employers see us as indecisive; willing to job-hop every few years or throw down thousands toward higher education in avoidance of the real world.

Perhaps the best way to describe my generation is as a double-edge sword, but it’s been predicted that by 2020, we’ll account for 46% of the US workforce. We’re the future of companies and, though everyone has faults, millennials may have more to bring to the table than you think. Call our generation too-tech savvy, but I disagree. We adapt to change, whether it’s a new computer system or tricky technical skills. We search the internet for answers instead of wasting others’ time. One executive notes, “Millennials are not much different than we were at their age–fearless, independent, and energetic go-getters. They’ve been raised with the technology tools to make their lives more efficient, which can prove the same for businesses.” If it isn’t already clear from your corporate surroundings, 77% of Fortune 500 companies own Twitter accounts, while 70% are on Facebook, and 69% on YouTube. It’s probably beneficial that millennials matured just as social media outlets, attributing toward our understanding of a now overpowering industry.

Instead of expecting nostalgic blue ribbons for professional wins, millennials crave regular feedback. Organizations should embrace honest relationships with all employees – not just the young ones – and remember that feedback can encourage positive performance. We’re open-minded and collaborative, and one site notes that integrating mentorships will only feed our success. Millennials are flexible enough to cover Generations X’ers with added life responsibilities in exchange for what we want – more experience. We’re willing to learn and grow into earned positions that actually aren’t granted out of entitlement.

To sum it up well, “If you manage millennials, take a step back and recognize the value they can offer through new perspectives and approaches to their work.” And if you’re on the fence, perhaps it’s worth scheduling a lunch. Just remember to put your phones away.

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