Millennial Engagement in the Workplace: Finding Common Ground to Bridge The Multi-Generational Gap by Mark Caner - Read Online
Millennial Engagement in the Workplace
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Summary

For the first time in U.S. history, workplace demographics now span four distinct generations. Consequently, generational conflict is one of the last bastions of acceptable discrimination in today’s workplace. In order to create a truly collaborative workplace, organizational leaders must encourage associates to view generational differences as a valuable strength, rather than a weakness. Hence, the intent of this manuscript is to empower organizations to find common ground in order to bridge the multi-generational workforce gaps that permeate.

This book will predominately focus on engaging with the newest generation in the workplace...the Millennials. At the onset, this research will provide a portrait of Millennials, which will include their modus operandi in the workplace. Once Millennials are understood, strategies and best practices are developed to address a multitude of issues that exist within the workplace. This process will include dispelling myths that pervade and setting the record straight about facts versus fiction. In addition, it will explore Millennial language, particularly jargon and vernacular which is commonly used in the workplace. Moreover, this research will examine the significance of technology, the emergence of social media, and the importance of education for this “digital native” generation.

From a strategic leadership perspective, this manuscript will continue seeking ways to bridge the multi-generational gap in the workplace by exploring how to align their ethical values and develop more collaborative relationships between these distinct cohorts. Similarly, it examine how to motivate and cultivate loyalty among the Millennial associates within the workplace. Lastly, it will discern various organizational leadership styles that are effective and conducive for Millennials. Ultimately, the purpose of this research is to equip organizations to lead a multi-generational workforce.

Published: Mark Caner on
ISBN: 9780988816510
List price: $2.99
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Millennial Engagement in the Workplace - Mark Caner

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INTRODUCTION

The children now love luxury; they often show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. They no longer rise when their elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

As you examine this quote, which generation immediately comes to mind? Do not be too quick to judge because you may be surprised. Although this depiction may contain characteristics of the Millennial generation, the quote goes all the way back to the Fourth Century philosopher Socrates. Hence, although we may feel this generation pushes the envelope on decorum, it may not be as distinct as we think. Moreover, it is important to remember that they are a product of their upbringing. So the parents of this generation, which primarily consists of Baby Boomers, are significant contributors to their behavior.

When we consider this dynamic with research that strongly indicates that most of our cultural lens (i.e. learned perspective during our upbringing) is nearly developed and set by age 17, it makes it imperative to understand a Millennial’s formative youth before we can examine their proclivities in the workforce. Thus, although the intent of this book is to enable organizational leaders and Millennials to find common ground to bridge the multi-generational workforce gaps that exist, it will need to first seek to understand who they are and what their modus operandi is before a strategy or best practice is proposed.

Accordingly, this book has taken this challenge to task by surveying Millennials from private sector corporations, educational institutions and charitable organizations in order to evaluate, measure and analyze its results with a wealth of generational research that has been conducted since they formally entered the workforce over the last decade.

This survey was distributed to Millennials between the age of 22 through 30 from several Fortune 500 corporations, Division I-A universities, and charitable organizations. Younger Millennials (less than age 22) were excluded from this survey to disregard jobs held during undergraduate studies or prior to the beginning of their first vocations. Thus, although this definition does not assure that these results are decisively accurate, this was the most common designated age utilized in the Millennial research encountered. In total, there were 230 responses that were received from Millennials in private sector businesses (e.g. Western & Southern Financial Group, Nationwide Insurance), Alumni Associations from universities (Ohio State, Duke, Indiana, Notre Dame), and young, emerging leaders from charitable organizations (e.g. Young Leaders & Club Red of American Red Cross).

The survey consisted of 16 questions ranging from multiple choice to open-ended inquiries. It focused on discerning their preference for communication (e.g. synchronous versus e-mail or online), frequency of interaction with their manager (with an emphasis on performance reviews), and ranking of career priorities (e.g. work environment, work life balance, career progression, challenging assignment, and pay/benefits). Once their preferences were selected, the survey empowered them to elaborate on their responses, such as portraying what the ultimate work-life balance would look like, describing the ideal work environment, and explaining what constitutes fair pay/benefits from their perspective. Moreover, it provided a glimpse into how loyal they are to their employers and what key factors contribute to their longevity to remain with the same organization.

It is important to note the survey’s absolute commitment to keep their responses anonymous. This assurance, which was pledged by alumni members and trusted officials, facilitated candid insights into how an organization can meet the needs of the Millennial.

Moreover, the survey made discernable advancements with enlightening insights, organizational strategies, and best practices that leaders could employ to improve issues that have been identified by the Millennials within their workplace. Ultimately, it proved to be an acutely valuable tool to more effectively comprehend the Millennial’s mindset in order to align it with an organization’s mission, vision and values. Although there is not nor will there ever be perfect alignment, this survey combined with the extensive research that has come to light over the last decade, can serve as the impetus toward bridging gaps that exist between today’s organizations and the Millennials by finding common ground.

Chapter One: A Portrait of the Millennials

"Millennials really do seem to want everything, and I can't decide if it's an inability or an unwillingness to make trade-offs, says Derrick Bolton, assistant dean and M.B.A. admissions director at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. They want to be CEO, for example, but they say they don't want to give up time with their families."

This quote from The Wall Street Journal summarizes a common perception many have about the Millennial Generation. They seem to want everything and have a sense of entitlement. Moreover, they demand more from companies than prior generations, yet are less loyal. This issue, along with many other topics relating to the Millennial Generation, will be explored throughout this chapter in order to garner an incisive and accurate sense of who they are and what contributing factors were behind their resulting development.

First and foremost, it is central to define the age band of this generation. Although the inaugural age of this generation is unequivocally clear (i.e. those born after 1980), the end date is ambiguous. This is the first generation to come of age in the new millennium so it makes the commencement date definite; however, there is no clear date for when it should conclude. Regardless, the most common end date used in the research was 1995. Within this age band, there are approximately 75 million people in the United States that are considered Millennials. However, for analogous reasons cited in the introduction, this book will exclude the non-adult segment of this generation in order to more effectively capture the Millennials in the workforce. Thus, when excluding Millennials under age 18, there are approximately 50 million in this age band. Likewise, the aforementioned survey excluded a younger faction (less than age 22) from the results to eliminate people that are working to merely pay their bills during college, or have yet to determine their vocation.

With a decade in the workforce under their belt, Millennials have started to mark their passage with a distinct personality. They appear confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat, and open to change. By and large, they are more ethnically and racially diverse than older adults as demonstrated in this comparison by the Current Population Survey.

As illustrated in this diagram, racial and ethnic minorities make up 39% of Millennials, which compares to 38% of Gen Xers (born between 1965 through 1980), 27% of Baby Boomers (born between 1946 through 1964), and 20% of the Silent generation (born between 1928 through 1945). Another unique Millennial demographic is their nativity. Roughly 11% of all Millennials are U.S.-born children of at least one immigrant parent, which is much higher than Gen Xers (7%) and Boomers (5%). This resembles the Silent generation (11%), whose parents also came to the U.S. during a surge of immigration.

Another important difference of Millennials, particularly in the workforce, is their level of education. According to the latest Pew Research Center surveys, Millennials are ranked higher educationally in every category than prior generations at comparable ages. For instance, more than half of Millennials have at least some college education (54%), compared to 49% of Gen Xers, 36% of Boomers and 24% of the Silent generation when they were ages 18 to 28. Moreover, they are more likely to have completed high school.

Furthermore, an analysis of education trends by gender has shown that Millennial women surpass Millennial men in the share graduating from or attending college. This is a reversal of traditional patterns that initially occurred among Gen Xers. Conversely, in the Boomer and Silent generations, men had exceeded women in college attendance and graduation. As depicted in these comparative charts, this trend has continued over time.

Hence, the Millennials are the most educated generation in American history. However, this has not led to being gainfully employed. Conversely, they have experienced higher unemployment than earlier generations had been at the same age. One reason for this is that overall economic conditions today are less favorable than they were when Gen Xers were ages 18 to 28 in 1995, or when Baby Boomers were that age in 1978. Incidentally, what has become known as the Great Recession and its relatively slow recovery has taken its toll on Millennials with unemployment reaching nearly 40 percent for Americans ages 18 through 29. This is the highest rate in more than three decades, particularly for people between ages 18 to 24 that are experiencing two to three times the rate of unemployment as the rest of the working population. Although most Millennials view this occurrence as temporary, this experience has clearly played a powerful role in developing their cultural lens regarding a view of the workplace with little signs of improvement in the near term.

Another reason for their remarkably high unemployment is Millennials are more likely to be in college, and thus are more likely to be out of the labor force. Relative to Gen Xers and Boomers, this is a reflection of their propensity toward a college education. However, compared with the Silent generation at the same age (18 to 28), Millennials are more likely to be in the labor force due a preference by the younger women in the Silent generation to be stay-at-home wives. Not surprisingly, this trend is reflected in this chart below illustrating the Silent generation’s high proclivity to be married when they were ages 18 through 28 (54%) versus Millennials (21%) due to this dynamic that has evolved.

Another factor that needs to be understood when analyzing this demographic shift with Millennials is the makeup of