I’ve never ridden a hoverboard, experienced virtual reality, or worn a beanie hat to work. But yes, I regularly use many digital technologies, measure likes on social posts and send selfies through Snapchat every once in a while.
In case my need to defy a stereotype didn’t give it away – yes, I’m a Millennial. I’m one of the more than 80 million who were born between 1980 and 2000. We now comprise the largest share of the professional workforce and will make up 75% of workers by 2030. In our lifetimes, we have seen unprecedented change in personal and professional technologies. Entire businesses and concepts are almost second nature to our generation – ideas like the cloud and mobile computing. Communication is immediate. Change is expected.
I’ve read a lot of articles about how my generation is supposedly reshaping the workplace, what you need to know about us and how we can be understood. But here’s the thing – we’re not that different.
I still take notes by hand, prefer Microsoft Office on Windows over a Mac, shake hands when meeting new people and triple check emails before sending to a colleague. I understand how Millennial stereotypes affect perception in the workplace. (I don’t really understand the hoverboard fad either.) Nevertheless, I truly believe Millennials aren’t as different as you might think when it comes to workplace engagement.
Although our interests and work styles may be different, our inherent values have a lot in common.
We Enjoy Feedback
We’ve grown up using robust education systems that post our grades online shortly (usually just hours) after we’ve taken an exam, turned homework in, etc. So it’s only natural that we would expect the same sort of immediate feedback on our performance once we’ve entered the workforce – and we’re not alone. Studies have shown that annual, backward-looking performance reviews are inefficient regardless of the generation. More companies are transitioning toward real-time, continuous feedback that is already second nature to Millennials and is being embraced by other generations.
We Appreciate Our Voice Being Heard
At my internship last summer, I spoke up in a meeting regarding an upcoming event. My team immediately acknowledged and appreciated my idea. It doesn’t matter if it’s speaking up during a meeting or responding to a pulse survey on an app – everyone wants their voice heard and their opinions valued.
We Push Ourselves and Are Motivated by Others
Scorekeeping and competition is part of Millennials’ DNA, having grown up playing educational and recreational games won by the player with the highest score. Not too different from Baby Boomers and Generation X, right? Gamifying and socializing employee rewards and recognition keeps everyone on their toes, not solely because of competition, but because people are motivated by seeing what it takes to be successful.
When broken down, it’s clear to see that Millennials are not so different from other generations in the workplace. We all want the same things: regular feedback, our voice to be heard and our achievements recognized. Most importantly, Millennials crave opportunities for growth.
In this blog series I want to highlight a few of the differences but more importantly, the vast similarities between Millennials and every other generation in the workplace. Now I’m off on my hoverboard to my next meeting… Just kidding.