Millennials are unlike other demographics in the workforce. Given that they started working in the shadow of the recession, millennials are inherently less trusting of corporations, and are also likely more focused on work-life balance and other quality of life metrics. As a result, working alongside millennials is fundamentally different, and has started to redefine the workplace in general as millennials take over as the dominant demographic in the workplace. With that in mind, here’s what you can do to work better with your millennial colleagues.
Promote a Healthy Use of Technology in the Workplace
One thing that millennials have over their generation X and baby boomer colleagues is that they are the first digitally native generation. Although they did not have iPads when they were babies, millennials grew up on technology, and the internet is ubiquitous to them. As such, when working with millennials, older colleagues often call on them to be defacto IT people in the office, and ask them to do everything from properly formatting PDF files to troubleshooting basic computer issues. This isn’t a dynamic that millennials tend to love, as they’d rather focus on their tasks in a results-oriented manner. As such, millennials are used to constant digital communication, as many of them had cell phones when they were in high school or college. Instead of bothering your millennial colleagues about every small manner, you may want to try using digital communication platforms such as Slack to talk to them about any work-related issues. They’re likely to be more receptive to that than being asked to fix every technological problem around the office.
Take a More Flexible Approach to Work
Above all else, technology has allowed millennials to think of work more flexibly. As such, you should come around to your millennial colleagues’ point of view and petition management to allow for a more flexible schedule. This can mean going to the gym in the morning, leaving in the middle of the day for a doctor’s appointment, or leaving early to go to your child’s baseball game or ballet recital. As you can see, a flexible schedule is useful not just for millennials, who are often derided as ‘lazy’ because of this. Instead, you should think of your millennial colleagues as more results-oriented. They can successfully use technology to reduce their workflow and manage the specifics of their job, and this is something that you can learn to.
Working with millennials can be a rewarding and enlightening experience for many of their older colleagues. Although there are many stereotypes about millennials in the workplace, the truth is that these are largely unfounded, and millennials just demand a more open company culture that is not centered on being a lifetime salaryman at a particular company. For those people who were negatively impacted by the recession, and have still not totally bounced back, there is a lot to admire about how millennials are shaping the future of work, and demanding the respect that they feel they deserve in the workplace.