By: Kristin Clements-Effner, MSW Cofounder/Training Coordinator
This is the first posting in our Thursday journey around the office to explore the world of generations in the workplace. Now, I do have a disclaimer that these posts are meant as generalizations and we do recognize that there are exceptions and every individual is unique. That being said there are some common characteristics of each generation that translates to workplace behavior.
The first stop on our tour is Generation Y or the Millennials. I can take some liberties with this one because I am a member of this distinguished generation and have a few observations of my own on how we behave in the workplace. You might find a Generation Y coworker in the cubicle next to you and a few observations may be that we are listening to music, working on the computer, and texting all simultaneously while wearing flip-flops and jeans. Your Gen Y coworker got there at 9am and will be leaving their desk promptly at 5pm. During the day, they may leave to have lunch with a friend, bring a list of new ideas to the staff meeting, and sit there wondering why the supervisor hasn’t mentioned the great job they did on the report they submitted yesterday.
Generation Y is looking to make a difference with their employment and want to step up to the plate to use their creativity and skills to benefit an organization. At the same time, they have seen their parents work hours at a job they didn’t like and then get laid off due to a poor economy. They were involved in every extracurricular activity available and their parents were their number one fans. This has led to Generation Y to highly valuing: life/work balance, flexibility, continuous feedback, creativity, technology, etc.
We are longing for quality mentorship to help us navigate the professional world and further develop personally. Many of our values may seem to other generations that we do not highly value work or don’t want to put the time in to make our way up the hierarchy. I will say that is quite the opposite of most Millennials that I call friends and colleagues. We highly value our work, but also highly value living a well-rounded life outside the office. We desperately want to succeed, but are often not given the opportunities to use our skills and step out to be leaders or don’t have older coworkers willing to serve in a meaningful mentorship roles.
We have so much to bring the workplace, if we are given the chance to stand out and show you what we can do. I do also realize that we are a little rough around the edges (aren’t we all?) and that we need to value other generations for the experience and skills they bring to our workplace teams. Generation Y, Millennials, Generation Now; what ever you decide to call us, we are striving to make our way into the workforce, want to be valued for the great things we do bring to the office and want to be seen as leaders today.
Next up on our tour: Generation X.