According to Forbes, approximately one in every three employees in the U.S. will be a millennial by next year, and by 2025, they will represent 75% of the global workforce.
There is no shortage of discussion about Gen Y quickly moving into the world of work. Even with just a cursory glance, it is so easy to find hundreds of articles explaining how to work with Millennials and what your company needs to do accommodate them and their desire to make a positive difference while bringing home the bacon. While I cannot deny that the articles are fascinating to read, they do seem to be skewed in favor of this next gen. Since it takes two to tango, what can we (Millennials) do to help bridge the Boomer-Millennial gap?
- Be curious. While it is reported that we are the most educated generation to date, education has not always been everything. This country ran long before we got our Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. And while we may come in more knowledgeable about some things than older generations there are other things that they know that we simply do not yet. Be curious. They will probably appreciate that you care enough to want to learn from them. And moreover, with our powers combined, it is amazing what we can know and accomplish together.
- Be patient. With technology playing an integral role in our upbringings, we are used to getting our answers and getting them quickly. Dictionary Smicktionary. That takes too long, just go to Google. Boomers did not have that luxury growing up and so many take a minute or two longer to find their answers. Be patient. Give them a second. Remember there is a common goal: whatever the question, this generation of achievers likely wants to know the answer just as badly as you do. They simply choose to find it differently.
- Be kind. Plato said, be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Let’s think about that in terms of Boomers. For a majority of them, their careers were their lives. Why? So they could raise us and give us opportunities that they never had. And now that sun is setting for them. How would you feel? Be kind, they have feelings too. Can you imagine all the things going through their minds as they prepare to leave their lives behind and enter this next phase? Get to know them, they have stories. Care about them, they are people too and are probably somebody’s parents, just like yours and mine.
- Be flexible. Organizations are fundamentally changing the ways in which they operate in order to meet our demands. Little things like dress policies and fixed hours of operation are slowly but steadily becoming things of the past. And for boomers, deep rooted in tradition particularly as it relates to professionalism, this can easily become a point of contention. Yet, they remain flexible. Why not return the favor for them every now and again? Be flexible, come in to work at 8:00am once or twice a week in your best business suit. While it is a subtlety that will not last forever it is also a nice compromise that will likely not go unnoticed.
Bridging the gap is no one person’s responsibility but rather a concerted effort to reach a common goal of prosperity- whatever that is. While Millennials are shaking up the work place as with their sincere desire to make meaning and make money, it is equally important to consider what we can do to acknowledge the traditions of the working world established by generations prior; probably most relevant to us, those of the Boomer generation. At Luck Companies we refer to this idea as preserving the core while innovating for the future. And since we know we are in it together, what would you do to make it more enjoyable? After all, it takes two to tango.