It’s not just millennials – we all want to learn and grow @work

“How Do Employers Retain Job-Hopping Millennial Employees?” That was the question posed on Quora.com earlier this week. After reading the response from millennial entrepreneur, Elijah Medge, posted on Slate.com, I realized that what we want from work is not a generational issue, we all have similar expectations @work: to learn, grow and be challenged in an “awesome work environment”.

The American worker is tired of hearing about the ‘outrageous expectations’ of the millennial generation.

Instead, let’s step back and thank the millennials for their workplace vision that demands a voice in decision making, requires meaning @work, invites a diverse set of views and creates a bit of fun on the way to productivity.

There will always be a clash between employer and employee expectations when the process lacks honesty. Employers are scrambling to create ‘band aids’ to attract new hires. Job candidates, anxious to please a potential employer, play the game to get the offer, only to depart in a few months when promise and reality don’t match.

Media reports are full of stories of companies trying a variety of experiments to entice millennials to sign on the dotted line. There is no considered approach, just a bunch of ideas being thrown at the wall to see if any stick. The most recently publicized, ‘unlimited vacation time’.

Mr. Medge’s suggestions remind us that a fundamental tenet of management is ‘keep it simple’:

“Facilitate team bonding outside of the office.”

“Mix it up and have a little fun.”

“Take the time to coach, train, and develop successful mentalities.”

“Offer awesome incentives.”

“Encourage learning and mistakes.”

“Don’t micromanage.”

“Consistently recognize top performers.”

“Talk to your people about their goals.”

Do you see anything here that’s generation specific?

When corporate contracts with workers began to disintegrate in the late ’70s, members of the greatest generation and baby boomers were forced to rethink their relationship with the workplace. The disruption of downsizing signaled the end of ‘job stability’.

The level of workplace disruption came as a shock. Those generations were new at this and slow to respond. They had families and mortgages and the risks were too high to challenge the status quo, even thought the status quo had been shattered. The economy was changing and maintaining a standard of living required two incomes.

In contrast, today’s new workers, although saddled with debt, have few other ties. They are the ‘free agents’ of the contemporary workplace and they have watched previous generations, their parents and grandparents, and concluded there is a better way to work.

Let’s engage all workers in conversation about work culture that incorporates Mr. Medge’s common sense components.

The question of employee retention crosses all generations @work: the leaders, the mentors and the newbies. Calibrate the expectations of all members of the workplace community, align with the organization’s culture and restore credibility into the recruitment and retention process.

2 thoughts on “It’s not just millennials – we all want to learn and grow @work

  1. Hi Eileen! Elijah Medge here! Thank you so much for writing this fantastic article and of course for sharing mine. You bring up the excellent point that what we want from work is not necessarily generational at all. I would be happy to share your blog post with my followers — but could I kindly ask you to correct the misspelling of my last name in the second to last paragraph? I thank you again for sharing these insightful words!

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