In the Workplace: A Millennial Answer to the “Millennial Question”

In the Workplace: A Millennial Answer to the “Millennial Question”

February 9, 2017

“Entitled, narcissistic, self-interested, unfocused, lazy.” These are the adjectives author Simon Sinek used to articulate common conceptions and misconceptions of the Millennial generation in his viral interview with Inside Quest in September.

Yes, just when you thought you’d never have to hear the word Millennial again, this video is probably lingering in your news feed, not allowing the conversation around Millennials to end.

In a later response video, Sinek explains that in all of his appearances, there’s always at least one person who raises their hand to ask about Millennials; why they seem to feel entitled, and how to address them in a work environment. In the video, Sinek breaks the “Millennial Question” down into four main causes:

  • Parenting – Participation medals devalued the recognition of those who worked hard.
  • Technology – Everything has a filter, causing people to appear happier than they are, as well as making everything available to them in an instant.
  • Impatience – Everything seems so easy. Millennials are standing at the bottom of the mountain, expecting to make it to the summit without realizing there’s an entire journey that needs to take place to get there.
  • Environment – Many corporate environments are not structured to see the individual especially as a person or potential future leader.

What does this mean for your workplace?

To be competitive and retain top talent in today’s climate, it’s important to recognize the generational shift in the workplace. Leaders must continue to mold younger workers by providing them with more responsibilities and guiding them along the way to become future leaders. Relevant and effective approaches to employee recognition can have an impact with the generation in question.

How do I do this, you ask? Let this self-interested Millennial to tell you!

Sinek claims Millennials are addicted to cells phones and social media. His suggestion is to have a no cell phone policy in meeting rooms to promote human conversations void of technology. Yes, this is a great suggestion, but what if we also harness this reality into a productive and engaging format with online and mobile social recognition platforms?

Having a recognition platform that mirrors social media environments in design and concept shows that your organization is current and responsive to the newest workforce generation. And if you structure the program to empower your participants to display certain behaviors, such as corporate values, it makes saying “good job” and “thank you” cool and easy. It allows for an engaged workplace where teamwork and other key leadership skills are promoted.

Another thing Sinek touches on is trendy offices with bean bags and pool tables. The assumption is that this is what Millennials have come to want and expect. These things may be great perks, but they are meaningless if the engagement effort stops there. Let’s not focus on free lunches and Foosball tables. Put resources and effort into creating an environment that stimulates, promotes, and cultivates the things all generations need from their employer: creativity, purpose, and value.

As much as we want to scrutinize each generation that enters the workforce or partake in the latest trend to make our companies seem more enticing and trendy, it’s important to find a balance. Take the fundamental building blocks that drive the success of your company and make sure employees know that they and their work have a place in the company. If you adapt those fundamentals to a modern workplace lifestyle, you’ll see a great response!