What millennials have to teach us about work in the 21st century

Can millennials really deliver in the current workplace? The best answer to this question – probably not. The Barbadian work environment has to dramatically change for the upcoming generation to find good footing and be productive. The millennials bring a number of x-factors which will topple the status quo and hopefully pave the way for a seismic reboot.

The most connected, the most global, the most informed, the most praised and raised by helicopter parents millennials are the elite little emperors of our time, encouraged to believe that “we are all winners”. Millenials or generation Y are defined as starting in the early 1980s and ending in the mid-1990s to early 2000s birth years. Their precociousness is only superseded by their sense of entitlement. They have a lot to teach us and might be the wake-up call the world needs.

With a strong desire to make the world a better place, they question authority, tradition and distrust the system. Unlike the loyal and duty bound Baby boomer generation who were willing to steadily put their nose to the grind chasing distant corporate rewards, Millenials are shaking things up in a way that asks how the organization can fit them. In other words the question is no longer how can I fit the organization, but how will the organization fit my life and my profile?

According to the 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur report, this is the entrepreneurial generation. They have witnessed so much upheaval in tried and true systems of government, industry, economy and technology that “Go hard or go home” is the only mantra. The bitter truth – they are the most over educated, yet the most under employed people on earth. Therefore, armed with knowledge and a trailblazing attitude they are left to create jobs and new industries where none existed. You are more likely to find them powering their own start ups from app development to blogging or freelancing. And when working for others, they seldom want to work for longer than two years.

The 9-5 hustle/hassle is not for them. In the book Not Everyone Gets A Trophy; How To Manage Generation Y managers complain that they are the hardest to recruit, retain, manage or even motivate. But let’s just get one thing straight here. They actually believe that they don’t need you or your job! They’ve already got a side hustle. Besides the way you do business is already old by tomorrow. Millenials are very comfortable with change. Fast is the only pace they have ever known. So while globalization may make some feel small, they feel worldly. Accelerated technological change doesn’t phase them, but makes them feel more powerful, relevant and connected. For them, all we have is right now, and its the only real time that matters.

Actual face time at work will also be a challenge for them. In this century work can take place anywhere and at anytime and certainly does not require a dress code and one-to-two hour heavy traffic – carbon monoxide intake – to get into it. All that is basically needed is an Internet connection. Quite frankly, why leave home at all when everything can be done online with the touch of a button.

This leads to a common myth that millennials don’t like hard work. The book Not Everyone Gets A Trophy debunks this, by stating that they are actually eager to prove themselves to you and most importantly to themselves. This generation willingly does great work only if someone is tracking their effort and giving immediate feedback or reward for it. The old long suffering, delayed gratification model is completely lost on them.

As workers they want the benefits of all the connectivity, collaboration and immediacy that the current  technology has to offer. They long to be challenged, feel inspired, and engaged with clear guidelines about how their work impacts the overall mission of the organization. They want to respect their elders, as long as they get the respect they feel they deserve for the knowledge, ideas and experiences they also bring to the table. Millenials need a firm guiding hand and to be clearly told what the rules are. Of all the generations they have not had the benefit of shared morals, basic behaviour codes or attitudes taken for granted and uniformly passed along to previous generations.

If by disrupting the old ways, patterns and order of business Millenials are able to create a new platform for work that is innovative, inspiring and engaging, should we not embrace it? If this change brings us more time for leisure, closer to a better sense of well-being and more connection to family, should we not thank them for it? And if this quiet revolution can disentangle us from obsolete practices that are inefficient. Then isn’t it it about time ?


Source: Cherith PedersenClinical Mental Health Counsellor & Expressive Arts therapistGaia Creative Arts Counselling

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