Tonight on 60 Minutes there was a segment on Millennials in the workplace. Millennials are those kids we discussed in my The right kind of praise post. Those kids born between 1980 and 1995 who grew up playing on sports teams where nobody kept score and where they got trophies just for participating. Those kids who wouldn’t know hard work if it smacked them across the face.
Now these kids have entered the workforce and are taking over for the retiring Baby Boomers. This has caused some companies to hire consultants to learn how to deal with the Millenniums. Gone are the days of employees being so grateful to have a job that they bend over backwards to keep it. Now managers have to lead without being to harsh. They can no longer tell employees they are disappointed in them. And there’s no way they can expect these new workers to live and breath their job. Now managers need to focus on coaching rather than bossing.
These kids grew up with childhoods that didn’t prepare them for the old working world. Many of them spent summers traveling rather than working. Their parents paid for their four years of college and even gave them spending money as their reward for getting an education. Even as young adults their parents are still fighting their battles; calling professors to complain when their kids get a bad grade or filling out their kids’ job applications. Growing up like this, their attitude now is that they always win and get rewarded just for showing up. These kids I go to college with fully expect to get a job making $50,000 the day after they slip off their graduation gowns. After all they put in four years of college. Their reward should be a good paying job. No working their way up the corporate ladder for them. Just instant gratification.
According to this 60 Minutes piece, 50% of college graduates move back home after graduation. It’s no longer unacceptable to live with your parents. Back in my day [I say that like I'm some old maid], we would never date a guy who still lived with his mommy. But now it’s common place. Living at home gives these kids an opportunity to be choosy about their job choices. If they don’t like the way their boss treats them, they have the luxury of quitting and living with parents until they find their next job. Kids no longer have to settle on a job. It’s no longer uncommon to have several jobs on your resume. People are no longer working for the same company for their entire careers.
But is that all bad? Before I was married I had several jobs. I quit jobs without having a job to go to because I was fed up. Back then I could afford to do that because I wasn’t the sole provider to a family of seven. Back then I could be choosy with the job I worked at. And it was great. If it wasn’t for that job hopping I probably wouldn’t be a the company I am now. It’s highly likely I would be stuck making just over minimum wage working for somebody I can’t stand.
The Millennials are pushing for change in the workplace. Change I like. Companies are now offering fun and flexibility to attract and keep workers. I don’t go in to work until 9am (or later) and I work from home two days a week. When my kids have a holiday party at work I can sneak out to attend. I can take time off to chaperon field trips. My job allows me to put my family first and be there for them when they need me. This flexibility thing rocks.
Don’t get me wrong. I still think kids needs to learn how to deal with disappointment. They won’t be invited to every party. They won’t get every job they apply for. Not every boy they meet with fall head over heals for them. But maybe we are doing something right with all this praise. Maybe we’re teaching our kids to stand up for themselves and demand changes. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.