At this point, we’re all experiencing varying degrees of fatigue surrounding the topic of Millennials, especially if you belong to this so-called spoiled generation. Articles will paint Millennials (also known as Generation-Y) as an entitled bunch of avocado toast-loving job hoppers, but some would argue that it’s an unfair assessment. Millennials aren’t entitled – they just have higher expectations than their predecessors.
“Emerging generations have elevated expectations,” said Ryan Jenkins, a Millennial Generation Expert that has coached executives from the likes of Delta and Coca-Cola. He references the feeling that we all experienced when we completed our first Uber ride: You launch the app, summon the vehicle, arrive at your destination, close the door, and the car drives off. At no point in your trip did you have to take out your wallet, it was an effortless and seamless experience.
Elevated Expectations In The Workplace
Jenkins points out that while those of us who regularly had to hail taxis and fumble with our wallets will have this feeling – the new generation will not. “For the emerging generation that doesn’t know a world before Uber, Uber is not an innovation – it’s a standard. So that’s where their expectations start,” he said.
“The emerging generation just has a different appetite. A lot of people are thinking of it as entitlement, but it’s just the next generation of employees, consumers, and leaders. And the companies that don’t deliver seamless and effortless experiences for their customers and their employees should know that Millennials are just a finger swipe from going elsewhere.”
By a “finger swipe,” Jenkins is referring to the mobile device that we all are perma-attached to, which make shopping around as a consumer and as a job seeker much easier. Thanks to mobile technology, the stakes a lot higher now.
Despite the overall fatigue that many of us are experiencing over Millennial-related content, there’s no better time to be having the conversation about how to better understand this generation of people that prize freedom above all else.
Understand That Millennials Are Now In Their Prime
“Millennials have been the most highly scrutinized generation of all time. It’s because they’re the largest generation on the planet and I think it’s still going to be a relevant conversation for the next few years as they’re just stepping into decision-making roles, so we’re going to be seeing a lot more change happening within organizations,” said Jenkins. He points out that as these “digital pioneers” move into roles of authority, they are also entering their prime spending years.
And companies are well-aware of the current and future of influence of Millennials, as this group will make up 50% of the global workforce (PwC). In fact, tech companies far and wide all now offer Google-inspired perks such as nap rooms, catered lunches, and ping pong tables to attract talented Millennials. If we dig a bit deeper though, Jenkins notes that these perks actually signify a larger future of work trend at play.
Work-Life Balance No Longer An Option
“What that’s communicating is that we are blending work and life. So to take company perks as an example, you have to find ways of weaving work and life together, because the emerging generations don’t want to compartmentalize work and life – they want it together,” he said.
Some believe that work-life balance is now dead, with “work-life integration” rising to take it’s place. And that perspective is now prevalent in the workplace, whether it’s people bringing their lives to work via exciting perks and benefits, or incorporating work into their lives by embracing the remote work arrangements. Thanks to increasingly digital roles, improvements in remote collaboration tools, and the creation of tech-powered processes – the “I can work when and where I want to” ethos is now going mainstream.
Side Hustle Creating An Energy Leak
Another trend that’s been affecting the Millennial’s engagement levels in the workplace is the rise of the gig economy, where it seems that every member of the emerging generation is privy to a “side hustle” (other projects). No longer just for the ambitious, the flexibility of roles (contract, part-time, freelance) is allowing full-time employees to work on side projects to get the skills that they so desire.
And make no mistake, this is a problem that goes both ways for companies. Any creative energy that your best and brightest people are expending on other projects is less time spent solving problems for your business.
“Millennials and Generation-Z might be working at a nine-to-five job, but they have a business that they’re growing on the side,” said Jenkins. “In my eyes, I view that as an energy leak, a creativity leak. What are they working on and how can we redirect that energy and creativity into the workplace? Can we create another role so we can put that interest to work?”
What About Generation-Z?
The same can be said about Generation-Z, the first cohort born into a world that has Internet and technological advances readily available. This is a group of tech-savvy young people that, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, can’t remember a world where Uber didn’t exist. Their standards are high and perhaps even more finicky than Millennials.
“With Generation-Z, we might not see as much job hopping, but we might see more role hopping. They already have very diverse personal interests, they might have a YouTube channel, might be a member of the international drone association, and they’re also doing weekly maintenance on the app they’ve created, and they’re going to want to bring it into the workplace,” he said and points out that Gen-Z will care not just about where they work, but how they work.
Instead of wanting to work in the same role for a year, Jenkins said that Gen-Z workers will perhaps want to work in marketing for a few days, try accounting on for size, then give HR-related duties a whirl. All within the same role.
So if Millennials are the leaders of today, and Gen-Z workers are your entry to mid-level upstarts, workplaces will have to make dramatic shifts in the way they operate if they want to hire and retain the best and the brightest of the emerging generations.