Why You Should Treat Everyone Like You're Told To Treat Millennials

Millennials. The internet is full of articles telling you how to treat them in order to get the most out of them in the workplace. I’ve read countless articles about how you should treat Millennials differently than individuals from other generations. I’m sure you’ve seen them too. Millennials are often touted as being needing extra attention or care. This article will explain why this wrong, and why you should treat all your employees with the same attention with regard to culture, recognition, and respect. The headlines below are pulled directly from articles that advise on how to treat Millennials differently.

Create A Healthy Team Environment For Millenials

Why would this apply to only Millennials? Creating a healthy team environment is good for everyone involved. We spend so much time with our coworkers it’s incredibly important to have a workplace that encourages healthy communication, work-life balance, trust, and cooperation. In doing this you’ll create a productive, collaborative environment for everyone, not just Millennials. It’s pretty straightforward.

Give Constructive Feedback To Millenials

This is good advice for any organization employing staff of any age. There’s a common misconception about treating Millennials with a gentle touch, providing more constructive feedback than you’re used to. But the truth of the matter is that employee retention and company culture has been increasing in importance in recent decades. It’s a good idea to focus on culture and happy employees, but not because they’re Millennials. It’s because research has shown that happy employees produce more and stay with organizations longer. By giving constructive feedback, you ensure that employees know how to do their job correctly and they feel valued. It’s the same for people of every age. Hiring new staff and training them is expensive. It’s more affordable to keep an employee happy.

Be Transparent With Millennials

This goes along with constructive feedback and company culture. Transparency is something that has become increasingly important in corporate culture throughout the last few decades. It just so happens that it coincides with Millennials becoming an increasing factor in the workplace. Transparency isn’t important because Millennials need transparency, everyone values transparency. It contributes to a good company culture in which your staff feels informed and trusted. Being honest and constructive with feedback is important but it’s also important to be upfront about company goals, organizational changes, and other major shifts that may be coming. Nobody wants to be caught off guard, it’s not just Millennials. Open communication has been promoted as a method for fostering positive personal relationships for several decades. Its the same when it comes to company culture. Just do the right thing and be a good leader, you don’t need to placate Millennials. An article I recently read on The Muse claimed that an employee from Generation X would simply say yes to a task rather than asking why they should do the task. Meanwhile a Millennial would want to know why they’re assigned the task. This is misleading because it assumes that Millennials are the only ones who want to understand the goal of their assignment. It also assumes that Millennials are the only generation that has curiosity or wants to know the purpose of their work. It’s completely hypothetical, and it’s an anecdote that can’t be applied to all 75 million Millennials.

Respect Their Individuality

I find it hard to read some of the articles that tout individuality as a trait that’s unique to Millennials in the workforce. Just because past generations may have had less freedom to express themselves in the workplace doesn’t mean that it’s a requirement unique to Millennials now. Respecting your staff will go a long way no matter their age. It’s a common decency that has become more culturally appropriate with society as a whole. This is a no-brainer.

Give Responsibilities To Millennials

Young people tend to be hungry for achievement and success. If you’re just starting your career you’re eager to move up the corporate ladder. This has always been true since corporate America has existed. We’re just now attributing this behavior to Millennials because they’re the young generation that’s now behaving in this way. Many want to argue that being raised with the internet, computers, and mobile devices Millennials are accustom to instant gratification. I’d argue that most people have become familiar with instant gratification at this point. The desire to contribute in the workplace and see the results of your contributions aren’t unique to Millennials. Nobody wants to be a cog in the machine. The idea that Millennials want purpose more than individuals of other generations is misguided. Some (infuriating) articles I’ve read aim to patronize Millennials by giving them menial tasks like organizing team lunches as a means to gratify this need. Meanwhile, other recommendations include obvious recommendations like recognizing individuals for their success with positive reinforcement. As if this method wouldn’t be applicable to staff of other generations. Again, recognition for achievements isn’t something that only Millennials value. It applies to everyone. Bruce Pfau, who is a Corporate H.R. Advisor & KPMG Partner, ellaborates on this idea in his article published in the Harvard Business Review:

“A growing body of evidence suggests that employees of all ages are much more alike than different in their attitudes and values at work. To the extent that any gaps do exist, they amount to small differences that have always existed between younger and older workers throughout history and have little to do with the Millennial generation per se.”

Embrace Their New Ideas

If it’s a good idea, it’s a good idea. You shouldn’t pay extra attention to the ideas of Millennials while ignoring the ideas of your older (or younger) staff. This is very closely related to having a healthy team environment and building company culture. Millennials have bad ideas too, they’re not the generation of brilliant ideas any more so than any generation before them. Treat everyone with the same respect, and be open to new ideas. Your organization should be open to feedback from all staff, not just Millennials.

Invest In Millennials

I’ve seen this recommendation more often than most. It makes sense if you buy into the misinformation campaign surrounding “how to treat Millennials in the workforce”. It makes even more sense if you substitute “Millennials” with “employees”. The argument from the misinformation camp is that you should train and build relationships with your Millennial workers. That building personal connections and investing in the things that Millennials value will help to grow your company. The problem is that this should be applied to all members of your workforce, not just Millennials. By investing in your people, you invest in your future, no matter their age. If you’re attempting to placate any age group you’re going to run into problems alienating other groups (or even alienating the group you’re trying to placate). Equality in the workplace applies here. Judge individuals on performance, not age.


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