Millennials: Don’t beat ’em, join ’em!
July 24, 2017

I’ve been reading a lot about Millennials in the workplace lately. It seems that everywhere I look, there’s another story about them and their latest trend towards…well, name a thing.

Frankly, I’m exhausted by the dissection of this generation. What are their buying trends? What do they value? How do we appeal to them? How do we hire and keep them? Our mania goes on and on trying to figure them out. But are they really that different than the previous generations?

One thing is certain. The older generation loves to criticize the younger. Twenty-five years ago, my Gen X label was “disenfranchised slacker.” Which honestly, cracks me up a little bit now that I’m middle-aged. Admittedly, it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do with my life when I was in my 20’s. Although, in the years following, I’ve balanced work and family life, started my own business, weathered a recession, and then re-entered corporate America to find it a much more flexible, family-friendly place.

A slacker success story? Maybe.

And maybe “slacker” was just a label for the then-younger generation that the older was trying to understand. They weren’t trying to cater to us, our interests or our buying power. Maybe that’s why grunge happened.

But I digress.

Here’s what we (non-millennials) need to remember as we get to know our new, younger co-workers: keep an open mind.

This is a generation full of bright ideas that are not JUST tech related. They are politically and socially engaged, curious, confident and eager to make their mark. They’re optimistic. And there’s more to them than that cliched line about getting their participation trophies.

In conclusion, keeping the conversation open with our younger colleagues is the key to avoiding the labels and the stereotypes we’ve all endured over time.

The “everyone needs to pay their dues”  attitude is antiquated and negative thinking. I didn’t like it when I began working  in 1990, and I don’t like it now. However, that does not mean that our younger co-workers already know everything. They don’t. And that’s where communication comes in.

Learning from each other will create internal work relationships that can only push businesses like Silver Oaks farther because the skill sets of all generations are represented. Maybe dropping these generational labels would be a good way to start. I’ve had mentors of every age who have taught me, inspired me and encouraged me to be more.

So what makes companies great? People do. And that’s why working together is the only way to keep us successful at any age.


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