Whenever there is a perceived problem, you can find a perceived expert.
I realized this one day when I was in my VP’s office, discussing a class he just took. I was looking at a packet that named “Millennials and You”, and I had this shocked look on my face.
Not only because I didn’t know my generation required an after school special title for a class, but this class was given by an elite school (I won’t name it, but if someone came to you with a degree from this place, you would pay to listen to them, regardless of age)
I didn’t know my generation was so difficult to figure out. especially since every person my age wants the same things.
The packet made things way more complicated
I would have laughed reading that packet, if I wasn’t so shocked. First the class had two Ph.D’s, both ivy league educated, both being “experts”. They had graphs and charts, a Powerpoint presentation, and the backing of that elite school. Looking at the front, I expected to learn something from reading that packet.
After going through it, I realized that my VP and company just got hustled. I recognized this when my VP started talking about ping-pong tables and white boards all over the walls.
I grew up around millennials, and I never, ever heard of a go-getter (I know a lot of them) ever say they need more ping-pong tables.
They are attacking the wrong problem. They focus on millennials, but the issue attacks every employee they have.
First, the context
What this class, my VP, and I am betting, everyone else who swears the problem is with the new, young people they work with is missing is the context of the world.
The gold watch era is gone. Millennials grew up watching the last few generations have fleeting security, and as outsiders, noticed how the perks changed with each passing year. I’ve watched the layoffs. People I’ve known all my life got a pink slip just to get a better bottom line. The market matured into a free agent based system.
We heard the complaints. And millennials just internalized the free agent market. We realized that we aren’t going to get taken care of, and the best don’t feel safe for a moment.
With lack of safety, comes lack of engagement
The numbers bare this out. There isn’t a millennial engagement problem, there is a problem with the entire workforce. The gun comes under the new people, because they are bold enough to question, and are a little louder with the dissent.
The truth is, everyone is, some just keep quiet.
So, what I told my VP, and what I am telling you, the reader, now is that you don’t need professors taking thousands of dollars to “teach” you about your youngest employees. All you need to do is work on the engagement issue – meaning, listen.
What you will find is that it isn’t just a problem with the younger group, there are issues all through the workforce. We are all scared. work on the fear, and magically, you find all the millennials working hard (because everyone will) .We all want the same things, meaningful work, a decent pay check, some vacation time, and most importantly, someone to hold us accountable while making sure we aren’t alone. Does that sound familiar?
No ping-pong tables required.