How to Understand a Millennial's Workplace Values

By Tamiera Vandegrift on January 7, 2017

In the workplace, it can sometimes seem like there is an invisible barrier between workers from different generations. It’s a tale as old as time (Baby Boomers vs. Generation X, Generation X vs. Generation Y, etc). The cycle has continued even to this day. How can we break down the barrier between generations in the workplace?

The first step is to create some form of common ground to help both sides to understand each other well enough to make a productive work environment and to make sure things continue to run smoothly. The most important thing to consider when breaking down barriers is to create an understanding of workplace values on both ends.

Read on to learn how to understand the millennials’ workplace values.

We want: equal responsibility

The first idea that other generations seem to have about millennials is a strong sense of “entitlement,” or the idea that we think that we deserve everything without having to work for it. This is rarely the case, especially in the workplace. According to Forbes magazine, a lot of millennials were raised with the idea that they share equal power with adults. Parents tended to allow Generation Y kids to help make decisions for the family and weigh in on issues.

Consequently, we want to have the same equal power in the workplace because we feel like we can handle it. We don’t want the traditional “boss and employee” dynamic. We don’t want an imbalance of power or the sense that we’re inferior. We crave a collaborative work environment where every employee is treated equally and has equal work to complete. Hierarchy disgusts us for the most part and if there’s anything that we feel “entitled” to, it’s a great and collaborative work environment where we can be just as responsible for every task as our coworkers are.

We want: strong ethics

Millennials tend to be strong social justice warriors who crave equality and fairness. Needless to say, we want to give our time and effort to a company that follows our own personal moral code. We want to know the company’s stance on a variety of social problems, environmental problems, and more.

We feel that as employees of a company we need to make sure that the company we’re working for has values similar to our own. If it doesn’t, we’re less likely to want to work for them because of how we feel it will reflect on us. For instance, if one recent college graduate fits within the LGTBQ community, they’ll obviously feel uncomfortable and opposed to working for a company that is outwardly against gay rights.

We want: recognition

Another infamous myth floating in the air about the millennial generation is that we all want a “participation trophy” just for doing our basic duties. The truth is that we’d just like to feel like a valued, contributing member in the workplace. We don’t expect our employer to roll out the red carpet every time we enter the office, nor do we expect them to give us a high five every time they pass us in the hallway. What we would like in the workplace are feedback and recognition.

We need to know that our performance is more than adequate and we want to know how we can improve. Earning recognition from our employers and coworkers will encourage us to work harder and better for the entire team. Any feedback or constructive criticism will also allow us to develop, therefore it is craved and welcome.

A common misconception is that millennials are overly sensitive and don’t want to face the facts. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While we don’t take well to cruel criticism or insulting comments (who would?), we welcome constructive criticism because it allows us to improve in the workplace and to earn more positive recognition.

We want: to multitask

If there’s anything that millennials have learned within their college experience, it’s the ability to multitask. We can write emails as we complete assignments, study for an exam, and eat a sandwich. There’s nothing worth doing for us that can’t be done with other things simultaneously. We want to be able to tackle everything at once to increase our productivity before the shift ends.

Give us multiple responsibilities at once. We can handle it. As a college student, I’ve learned how to manage writing articles, writing essays, and studying for exams all within the same two-hour period. It was a helpful skill in the classroom and will be a helpful skill in the 21st-centurycareer world without a doubt.

We want: a balance between work and life

We crave flexibility. We don’t want to bring our work home with us. Trust me, we’ve had four years of doing that. We’ve watched our parents sacrifice blood, sweat, and tears to attain the occupational success they’ve dreamed of. While we want to be successful in our lives, we don’t want to sacrifice our physical and mental health to do so. We crave a career where we can live our dreams while taking care of ourselves as much as we can.

By Tamiera Vandegrift

Uloop Writer
Florida State University
Tamiera is an alumna of Florida State University, having earned a BA in Editing, Writing & Media and a BA in Digital Media Production. Tamiera is an aspiring novelist and screenwriter, inspired by the works of Lars von Trier, David Fincher, and Darren Aronofsky. Tamiera has previously written for the FSView and Florida Flambeau, College Magazine, and more. She has recently published a creative thesis containing short stories based on mental illnesses in the media. In the future, Tamiera aspires to win "Best Original Screenplay" or "Best Picture" at the Academy Awards with one of her film projects. Besides writing and storytelling, Tamiera enjoys cooking, traveling, spending time with friends, and geeking out over movie trivia.

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