There seems to be a consensus about what millennials want – what millennials need – out of a job. Most articles featuring the word “millennial” mention that employers and managers should be abiding by the following to keep the communication flowing and their millennials happy.
If you Google “Millennials in the workplace,” you’ll find lists like this:
- Millennials want to be challenged.
- They want to be mentored.
- They want to be empowered for their work.
- They want to be trusted.
Wait. What? Don’t these things apply to ALL employees – young and old; newbies and veterans? The argument that you’ll see in a lot of comments following these articles that seem to be guided towards and stamped with a ‘millennials only’ stigma is that these are things that every employee wants, needs and seeks. And it’s true. And it’s also well, not.
Here’s why millennials tend to be singled out, more recently now than ever before…
Because there is finally a solid amount of us in the work field. A millennial is classified as anyone as young as 18 and as old as 34. Fair enough, right? Millennials are finally over-powering the Baby Boomers (ages 51 – 69, for those of you who missed the post-World War II lesson in history class). So yes, it is important that we target these newbies and, more importantly, why we give employers a reminder to keep an eye out for this new group and their needs – even if it is just a reminder on how they should be treating every employee.
I could also argue that millennials are the only generation that grew up knowing that they didn’t have to read Lord of the Flies in high school English Literature – They could Google the spark notes online! And in fact, Google – and the Internet in general – has played a large role in our learning process, or, lack thereof. Millennials look stuff up. Plain and simple. It’s how we were raised. It’s the exact reason I’m not allowed to have my phone out during Monday Night Quizzo at the pub down the street. So, yes, it’s a hot topic for bloggers and career development writers, because they know it’s going to be read somewhere on the Internet and shared to millennials around the world. If there’s one thing millennials know how to do, it’s Google. And if there’s another thing we know how to do, its band together to share a good article that we found that thinks relates to us and our other young professional friends, who just seem to be seeking a little guidance in this new world of working.
Millennials are different because we feel as though you don’t trust us. Yes. You. As we start to become a larger and larger group in the workplace, we start to feel eyes dwelling on our every move. More of these new kids and less of the ones who ‘knew what they we’re doing.’ And it’s not a bad thing. Most millennials, in their first jobs, should be watched carefully as they learn. But they also want to be guided and mentored. And what they really want is to be trusted. They want to know that for every fuck up, there’s not going to be a hundred I knew it-s mumbled around the office just because they’re the new guy – and especially because they’re younger.
It’s true: millennials do differ from other, more experienced employees, in lots of different ways – far more than I can list here. It’s also true that there aren’t that many differences in how employees wish to be treated, communicated with, and understood.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this… We, millennials, don’t think we’re special. We don’t think you can say the word “millennial” and slap some stereotypes on it and think that they apply to everyone. We don’t want to be treated any differently than any other employee we share an office with.
We do want you to realize that we grew up in a different era. We grew up learning different things in different ways with different kinds of people. We are, in fact, a little different from you old timers.
We’re also insanely jealous of how experienced, all-knowing and powerful you are. We think you’re awesome.
And someday, when we’re the veterans of the office and there’s a new generation entering the work force, we want to understand them. Differences, similarities, and everything in between. We’ll want to learn from them, because they’ll have grown up in a different time, too.
So whether you’re a Baby Boomer, Generation X-er, or Millenial, let’s all learn to celebrate those variances. Learn from one another. Be open to old ideas. Be open to new ideas.
And stop getting upset at articles aimed towards millennials. Especially not this one. Because I wrote it and you’ll hurt my millennial-feelings.