Will I get in Trouble for Texting? And Do You Have WIFI? – Millennials in the Workplace

March 18, 2016

Guest Article By: Linnea Franson

 Whether it comes to working part-time while you’re in school, or landing your first “real person” position, there is always an eclectic mix of age groups on the job. We are all pretty familiar with the Baby Boomer generation (1945-1960), and even Generation X (1961-1980). The children of the Baby Boomers known most popularly as “Millennials” consist of people born between 1980 to 2000 and are (brace yourself) the biggest generation is U.S. history to date. That’s right, not only are millennials different than those that have gone before us, but are also more numerous than any other generation.

According to Deloitte, millennials will make up three-quarters of the workforce by 2025. But hold on a second… aren’t millennials all lazy, selfish and entitled brats??? A notion exists that millennials are nothing more than the “victims of their parents’ success” as Jennifer Graham says in her millennial-bashing article in the Boston Globe. How is this tech-savvy, yet minimally employable bunch of Snapchatters going to fit the rigid corporate mold? Hang on to your iPads folks as I attempt to answer these questions, investigate these claims and discover if there is more to this millennial mystery.

TECH – (Tech)nically an issue or opportunity?:

Ah yes, Macbooks, iPhones, tablets and the internet. As millennials, we have certainly come of age during an interesting time consisting of technological change and globalization. We grew up with the internet, cell phones and social media being the norm. But what does this mean? According to Goldman Sachs, growing up during the millennial boom has provided us with a different set of behaviours and experiences than our parents. As a generation of digital natives, an affinity for all things tech related has helped shape how we receive information, shop and even how we work.

When I had to explain to my father what an IM was when I was 11, I knew not all generations were not always on the same page when it came to technology and social media. Here I am 12 years later showing him how to use an Apple Tv. It is clear that an affinity for technology sets us millennials apart from other generations. But is there more to this picture?

Its safe to say that technology has changed the way we do and think about work, and perhaps this is translated into a new attitude about the workplace. The millennial point of view says that there has to be a better path to making things fast, flexible and effective. According to Jay Gilbert’s article published in the Ivy Business Journal, millennials are generating a shift in how work gets done as they “work more in teams and use more technology.” Speaking as a millennial, I would claim that technology equates to flexibility, as we now have the ability to work anywhere at any time. Human interaction and information is always just one text, e-mail or Google search away. Cloud software allows us to collaborate with colleagues from anywhere with a wifi signal. Perhaps we millennials aren’t any more eager to escape the office than the next guy; we’ve simply have the means to do so.

Let’s put this together:

So are we lazy? Are we selfish? Do all millennials feel entitled? I’m not so sure this is an accurate generalization of my generation. We are all different. It would be unfair to claim that all baby boomers suck in the tech department. Yet, following this same logic, it would be unfair to claim that all millennials are lazy, selfish and entitled.

What if instead of being lazy, we were practical? – Why would we do something simply because that’s the way its always been done? Technology gives us the means to disrupt the traditional workplace and still be productive.

What if instead of being selfish we were self-giving and self-reflective? – Who doesn’t like having the freedom to work during the hours of the day when they are most productive? And who doesn’t like taking more time to do the things that they love? Technology allows us to work quickly, remotely and flexibly.

What if instead of us “feeling entitled” we felt empowered by technology? We can shake-up the workplace and make a difference with our skills.

Each generation brings different skills and perspectives to the workplace that we all need to be aware of. We all need to be open to and conscious of these differences to achieve progress in our workplaces. Millennials have gotten a bad rap about being entitled, lazy and too consumed with technology, but I would argue that this is not the whole story.

What one person may lack in the tech department, they may make up for in the experience department. To overcome our millennial stereotypes, we need to learn from those with more experience and allow technology to enhance our careers rather than distract us from having an impact. The key is to be open to generational differences, and embrace them, because the truth is that we all bring something unique and valuable to the boardroom table. We can’t always Netflix and chill, but we can always focus on our strengths.

Linnea Franson is a tech-savvy post-grad living in Toronto, Canada with a knack for writing and an interest in media. Equipped with her critical thinking skills and outgoing personality she is always up for a professional challenge. When she’s not in the office, you can find her enjoying nature, running marathons for fun or eating too much Nutella. Follow her on Instagram, and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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