How to understand a Millennial – From a Millennials point of view
The concept of hiring a Millennial can literally seem like a financial nightmare for some employers. But why? Why is the world suddenly so afraid to hire our generation? A generation that has been created by the ones that are doing the hiring? Is it because we’re horrible workers? Or is it simply because we are misunderstood?
How have the generations changed?
The world has come a long way since the Baby Boomers and Generation X. Everything we’ve learnt, everything we’ve become is all because of our elders. So why is it that those who created us can’t relate to us? It has been said that the Baby Boomers and Generation X had the tougher childhood. We were rewarded with time on an iPad just for finishing our dinner. My parents were told to eat what they were given or go to bed without dinner. They did not have a mobile by the age of 13 and used to walk or bike everywhere rather than relying on their parents to drive them.
There is a theory that Millennials were raised in a way that previous generations wished they were raised. It was merely a reflection on their ideal upbringing. What changed then?
For starters, I’ll be the first to admit we were babied. From the first day you step foot in the schoolyard there were rules, safety rules. No climbing trees, no playing with sticks, no running on the concrete. Rules that prevented us from learning the consequences of making mistakes on our own. I mean sure there are probably far less broken legs from falling out of trees.
These restrictions were the stepping stones in how we are today. It was as if we were taught not to take risks. It’s the same as telling someone not to write that story, or not to run that marathon because they might fail. Don’t climb that tree because you might fall, and as a result of falling you’re injured, or you’re in trouble. We weren’t taught that if we climbed that tree, we might succeed if we had just written that book maybe it could have brought us good things. Instead we were taught not to do the things that could result in failure.
Technology and patience – Can they work together?
Now you add a mobile into the mix. Millennials spend more time interacting with their mobiles phones than they do with those around them. Okay, so not only were we babied and now unwilling risk takers, we are addicts. I guarantee you right now, if you’re in a room full of millennials every single one of them owns a mobile phone. Instead of communicating with what is right in front of us we are absolutely obsessed with this device and everything inside of it. The world is no longer big, it doesn’t take us a week to sail from one country to the next. It takes us less than a second to contact a relative that is on the other side of the world. This addiction has made us impatient. We no longer have to wait months for letters to arrive, we haven’t had to read books to build knowledge. Everything we need, everything we desire, we can get in an instant.
Dating is a good example. There were days when meeting someone for the first time face to face was the only way to find love. That awkward tension you both felt when you had to make that first move and ask the one you like to go out with you. Now with a single swipe on Tinder we have endless options. The world has given us so many options. It has given us the impression that we have all of these amazing opportunities. The problem is that we never actually take our chances anymore. We continue to work simply because “money” is our priority. Certainly not because we love our jobs and enjoy coming to work everyday. Why don’t we quit and go and find our dream jobs? Or take that risk and travel the world? Why don’t we do the things we desire when they’re supposedly right in front of us instead of continuing with something we dread. Because in our eyes it’s not safe. There is no safety net in quitting your job to go abroad. There’s no guarantee that if you leave your job to go and get the job you’ve always wanted that you will succeed. This goes back to failure, it is the idea that if we risk anything we also risk failure.
How can we guide Millennials
You might be wondering by now, what can you do to change this? Well for starters, let’s replace the word failure with pleasure. Rather than warning them of the dangers, remind them of the rewards. If you take that risk and you travel the world you might find the ultimate pleasure that you have seeked to achieve. If you aim high and work hard at your job you will gain pleasure. It is now the employer’s job to engage their employees in order to get them working hard. There is no way you can throw them into a job and expect them to be hard workers without some kind of push from you. You must consider the fact that a Millennials up bringing was almost too easy. When you have everything at the palm of your hands you miss skills such as organisation, independence, drive. It is at no fault of their own, just simply poor parental strategies along with technology advances. Of course as employers we shouldn’t continue this cycle. However in order to motivate and engage with millennials, you must understand why they function the way that they do and think how we can inspire them to become hard workers.
If you have Millennials in your workplace here is some ideas you can try to engage with them:
Have one on ones
It indicates that you care about their progress and you’re interested in their opinions. This is important, if they feel valued then their work ethic is more likely to grow.
Play team bonding games
Yes this is a little bit cheesy. Nobody really wants to be the guy that makes everyone stand up and introduce themselves, but it’s good to get people out of their comfort zones. Especially if you’re in a work place with very few Millennials. They may feel left out because of their age difference, getting everyone participating in the same activities allows them to feel equal.
Value their opinion
It doesn’t matter if you’re Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory or Joey from Friends. Your opinion is valuable and everyone needs to be given a chance to express it.
Be available for questions
And they will have many, trust me. They’re only just learning how the world works above school level, let them ask you for help when they need it.
Get them to write down goals
It is amazing how much more productive one is when they’re striving for something they have not yet been able to grasp. Having them create goals creates a game plan in their head that will drive them towards success.