Today's 20-somethings have a reputation for being demanding and ignorant to power structures. And to a certain extent, these things might be true.
But the fact is, you're going to have to bring millennials into your office sooner or later. Their attitudes about life and work are different than the generations that precede them (and what you're probably used to), but a fresh perspective can invigorate your office and inspire growth. It's possible you can even learn a thing or two from the youngest set of the workforce.
So what do you need to know about this generation and how to deal with it at work? Here are the important points.
1. Think beyond profit margins
Young workers have grown up in a society that encourages civic involvement and lavishes do-gooders with praise. They've been taught (quite differently) from their parents and parents' parents, that helping others should be at least as important and satisfying as a big paycheck or raise. Millennials are drawn to service and appreciate a sense of community. Incorporate these things into your office culture, and they'll be drawn to your company.
2. Demand results
A generation that has grown up with Google and cell phones is one that believes anything worth having is available at their fingertips. They're not used to having unanswered questions or being in flux. Fostering an environment in which you value quick turnarounds and efficiency plays to millennials, who have given "instant gratification" new meaning.
3. Get social and share your wisdom
Averse to traditional power structures in the workplace, millennials might emanate an air of aloofness or disrespect that you don't appreciate. But don't necessarily see it that way, because chances are they don't either. The idea of "reporting to" someone makes 20-somethings uneasy, so it's best to work with them in a looser environment. An ability to communicate via text and the Internet—which essentially being able to communicate with anyone—has altered attitudes about there being people you can talk to and people you can't, largely obliterating the perceived hierarchy of past generations. But they're not anti-authority; in fact, they value harmony in the workplace. It's just that the young workers don't want bosses, they want mentors and guides that can steer them.
4. Be excited about change
Accustomed to a constantly changing the world and notorious for their short attention spans, millennials embrace adaptation. Not only will it help you work with them to do the same, it's also good business practice. In most industries, more of the same simply won't cut it. Today, you have to be an innovator. Young workers can help you get excited about new things and change, because they are themselves. This quality makes them an asset to you, too. As your business evolves, they'll likely be more eager than their counterparts to try new tasks and take on new responsibilities.
Millennials have the attitude that things will work out, and while they do value hard work (contrary to popular opinion), they're also able to take it easy. Just as standard power structures stifle them, so do intense, oppressive offices. So use them as an excuse to calm down yourself. Avoid conflict, and be patient with them.
Image credit: transportationcamp