Generational divides have always existed. Older generations often bemoan the shifting cultural attitudes of their children and grandchildren as younger generations develop new identities and shirk traditional values. These gaps exist in family relationships, across political landscapes, and in the workplace. Here is a brief overview of how millennials have nudged work culture in a new direction, its implications for the future and how companies can turn shifting attitudes among their younger employees into an asset.
The Desire to Connect
Most people have noticed the shift in office and workplace environments. Because millennials value creativity, as they have moved into higher management positions, they have reimagined what the office looks like. Cubicles have been replaced with more relaxed, interconnected spaces, often with informal décor and a hang-out vibe. Collaborative workspaces improve learning opportunities and allow employees to interact in ways they traditionally would not have been able to in the workplace.
The Desire to Make a Difference
Traditional values dictate some sense of unquestioned loyalty to a company – hence the classic idea of the “company” man. Older workers are more likely to view the health of the company’s bottom line and continued growth as priorities and take pride in their roles. While employers, especially older managers, may appreciate these attitudes, the reality of millennials’ work attitudes is that their primary interest is in finding meaning and fulfillment in their work. Several reasons exist for the increased emphasis that millennials place on making a difference. First, the internet has greatly expanded awareness of global social and economic problems. Second, millennials realise that their long-term prospects at a comfortable middle-class life are much dimmer compared to previous generations. In light of this, it is easy to understand why a millennial might look for meaning elsewhere.
Millennials and older generations, as a general rule, have drastically different work-life balance priorities. As many millennials witnessed their parents work to burnout while simultaneously seeing their economic prospects dim, their adoption of new sets of values is understandable. Millennials are simply not interested in 60-hour workweeks or regular late-night office hours, which may frustrate employers. Actually, though, studies have shown that attitudes in favor of more leisure time reduce stress, boost productivity, and increase effectiveness at work.
Millennials are changing company culture, and many of those changes can benefit workers of all ages. As the landscape of work continues to shift, companies that can adapt to these changing circumstances are in the best position to thrive.
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