Workplace challenges amongst the generations continue as they have for the past twenty years. I see no slack in the demand for solutions. And the solutions vary depending on the size and ability of the employer.
For example a fellow panelist at an event this past spring listed the things that the Millennials want in their workplace: Mentors, meaningful work, flexible schedules, newest technologies, planned and predictable career paths, predictable bonuses and raises, and the freedom to work on things that interest them. “It’s simple,” he said. “None of this is hard.” Maybe not, but are these reasonable things to offer a new-hire with no track record? And only the largest workplaces with ample HR budgets can afford to offer these things.
The vast majority of workplaces are small companies where workplace disruptions impact lots of people.
The vast majority of workplaces are small companies where workplace disruptions impact lots of people. The audience that day listened like I did with a perplexed look on their face, saying, “Yeah. You’re right. It’s easy to understand. But who is going to implement all this? And change the way we currently do things? And smooth it over with the old-timers who have been loyal and received none of this treatment? And where is the budget going to come from? We’re small and need people who want to fit in, not disrupt.” Easy to understand? Yes. Realistic? I don’t think so.
Today’s workplace has gone from a place where a new hire sought opportunities to prove themselves to a place where new hires say to their employers “Make me happy or else…” From “give me a chance” to “you get one chance.” My assessment may be harsh but my employer clients seem to agree with my description. As a society we have promised today’s youth that someone else will make them happy; that their happiness is not up to them. In their workplace they want to be made happy, not to be happy. So all the things today’s workplace trends highlight – from mentors to workplace buddies to Ping-Pong tables – are to make employees happy, especially the youngest ones. Maturity will ultimately teach them that their happiness is their own job but until this maturity sets in, the job is the employers. It’s evident in the way we raise children today – from rewarding participation vs. results – to the way we talk about the purpose of education – “do well on your tests so that someday you’ll find a good job that makes you happy.” It’s become a part of our culture.
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Follow Cam Marston on Twitter @GenInsight