Millennials in the workplace: Career & Expectations

Employee engagement: The questions you need to be asking as a business owner

Workplace dynamics are changing. For the first time in history we have approached an era where four distinct generations of employees are working together. The good news is, as a business owner this creates a wealth of opportunity – if you get it right, that is. The bad news is, getting it wrong, means the potential for tension, friction, conflict – or worse, disengagement. 

Disengagement means less productivity, performance, and risk to overall business bottom-line.

While a gradual phenomenon that has been occurring for decades – the merging of generations coming together in the workplace – some organisations haven’t realised that fundamental differences between generations, can be root cause for disengagement, with ripple effects on performance, productivity and moral.

The following example outlines some of the broader inter-generational differences at play between a Baby Boomer and millennial. While a simple example between employee and manager, this highlights the different mindsets based on generational differences and values – and on a deeper level, the issues that can give rise to disengagement, low morale and loss of talent.

“So, how did the meeting with your boss go?” asked Steve (Millennial)

“Not great”, replied Tom (Millennial). “I was so ready for it though, that’s what I don’t get. I had a great idea about what I wanted to do, and where I could add value. I’d even put together a 1-page summary of where I thought opportunity was in the business, and where I saw my path leading in the next year or so.

I mean, Tina (Baby Boomer) had asked me to identify opportunity before seeing her! But she didn’t take it as I’d expected. She basically dismissed it, said she didn’t feel I’d been here long enough to demonstrate my capabilities or be given this type of opportunity. She basically said I was too junior, that I’d have to see out more time doing what I was doing.

I get that she’s senior and has been working in this place for over a decade, but why should that matter to me? I’m not her, things are different these days.  I feel really devalued to be honest, and disappointed. I’m not really sure where to go from here, I mean opportunity is clearly limited. I don’t think I can stick around in an organisation that doesn’t value or support what I bring, or where I want to go.”

Getting it ‘right’ means understanding your employees – who they are both in the context of their generational values and their own selves as individuals, then making changes to adapt to styles accordingly. 

The rising growth in millennials around the world, means that understanding the core variances and values of millennials in the workplace will be vital. With Covid-19 now forcing business to think about new ways of working, this also extends to understanding workplace dynamics, who your employees are, what they value and why.

To minimise inter-generational conflict and the risk of disengagement, here are five key questions that you, as a business owner should be asking:

  1. Have we considered the impacts of generational differences?
  2. How cognisant are we to the differences that exist amongst our employees?
  3. How often do we listen to our employees and understand their needs? 
  4. How can we become better leaders and mentors to emerging generations? 
  5. How can we strengthen our workforce by embracing generational and interpersonal differences?

Becoming aware, finding common ground and understanding your employees before disengagement occurs, will help protect your business. Take the time to understand your employees, increase levels of engagement and watch your bottom-line soar.

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