At the ripe old age of 24, I am part of the generation known as “millennials”. In the workplace and in society nowadays, the label “millennials” usually isn’t followed by the best of news or comments. Most times, I’m ashamed to be one because of the image my peers and I have portrayed to the older generations.
I commonly find myself an outcast among my peers because even though I was born in 1992, I feel like I should have been born in 1892 to better fit into society. While most of my generation is getting excited over the newest Snapchat filters and staying up late, I’m getting excited about waking up early to watch the news and the stock market as it opens. My generation often likes to sleep till noon, then work on their newest apps, file YouTube videos, or do editing on a website. Me, on the other hand, I dream of days of yore when people had to wake up before the sun, worked 12-16 hour days, were judged by the strength in their back and the calluses on their hands. But, like everything else, nothing stays the same, including the work place.
With the baby boomer generation on their way out of the work place and millennials taking over, you hear a lot of concern and worry from the older generations about things that when they were young, they would’ve been fired over. They are starting to realize that millennials do not respond to the same types of motivation and tactics in the same way they did/do. This is where all the popular web articles start showing up about things such as, “how to motivate millennials in the workplace” or “understanding the age gap.”
I, as an old-souled millennial, feel like I have a very interesting insight into many of these topics of discussion. Don’t get me wrong, oftentimes I’d much rather text something than make a phone call, spend a weekend on the couch binge watching Netflix, or take a test on Facebook about “what music I like to determine what kitchen appliance I’m most like.” I’m much more likely to order something from Amazon.com than try to find it in the stores. But, on the other hand, I enjoy sitting around with people old enough to be my parents or grandparents while drinking a cup of coffee, playing cards, and listening to them talk about life while gleaning as much as I can from their years of experience. I’d much rather show up to work in a suit and tie than a hoody, jeans, and Vans. So, permit me to share my insight on this change in time and in the work place.
Allow me first to address the older generation. I know the fear and worry you have toward my generation especially with what is portrayed in the news not being the most positive or encouraging. I understand you small business owners, reaching the point of retirement but holding onto your company because of a fear of what may happen when left in the hands of the younger generation. I will give you advice about these concerns but now, let me speak to my peers.
Millennials, very soon our parents and bosses will be retiring and it will be left to us to pick up the torch and carry it forth. We cannot be focused on what’s trending on Twitter instead of investing in relationships and learning from the older people around us. We need to learn to keep our phones in our pockets when we sit down to talk with someone. We need to practice staying focused on our priorities and tasks while at work instead of stopping to check Facebook every 5 minutes.
Now, let me give some solutions on how the older generations can learn to better work with us millennials. One of the biggest points that I think you need to consider when working with us is to remember that you didn’t always know everything you do now, so please take time to teach us what we don’t know. You may need to learn to connect with us in different ways but we do want to learn from you, it’s just that sometimes we may not always understand the way you’re showing us.
Now millennials, the older generation comes from a different time when the level of respect for their elders spoke volumes about them and their character. I know that as soon as they’re gone we’re going to realize all that we never got to learn from them. We must also realize that in a short time we will be in their shoes dreading over the younger generation and how different they are from us along with how much we don’t understand them.
To summarize, I think we need to realize that we are both just as confused and frustrated as the other but may be too proud or scared to admit it. If we can each be willing to swallow our pride and be open to learning from one another, I believe there is much we can learn and it will make this transition and changing of the guard much simpler.