I know why you clicked on this article. Shock. Confusion. Horror. Emotions running wild in your head, thoughts racing that the title just cannot be true, or possible, or even imaginable.
It’s Friday and we work in HR. Friday mornings usually mean an innocent scroll through the ol’ Twitter feed, answering emails s l o w l y, and thinking about the chicken wrap we’ve got in the fridge for lunch, which we’ll be hastily going for at 12:01 on the dot.
That goes for all departments, not just HR, but luckily for you that’s what I’m interested in dedicating my Thursday evenings to write about. And luckily for you, it isn’t going to be the usual boring spiel about employee engagement or staff retention. It’s going to be fun. But don’t worry, it will still be HR-related enough for you to look like you’re hard at work, thoroughly engaged in an article about stay interviews over your morning coffee.
Today’s topic isn’t stay interviews though. If you’re looking for an article on stay interviews you’re in the wrong place (maybe check out this one?).
No, today I would like to address a topic which could get messy, dark and surprisingly personal: Millennials.
Okay, here goes… I’m Katie, I’m twenty-one and I’m a millennial. Phew, it’s such a relief to get that off my chest. It hasn’t been easy. But I’m here, I’m standing before you all, embracing the truth like a long-lost lover.
The truth is I’m a lazy, entitled, job-hopping millennial.
Except that I’m not. Like, at all, and neither are most of my fellow ‘millennials’. But I’m not here to write a ruffled and resentful article complaining about millennial stereotypes because that’s exactly what a stereotypical millennial would do, and I’m not that. Besides, there’s loads of articles already doing that (see this Guardian article if that’s what you’re after).
I just want to raise awareness of a more general issue; the generational gap in the workplace which is fuelled, bred and cultivated by the media to separate generations from each other, and stifle the individual.
It’s so pointless. Some articles, blogs and videos I’ve seen are so condemning it’s like they’re trying to make us all out to be different species. Don’t even get me started on this video on ‘weak’ millennials or we’ll be here all morning (which, in hindsight, might not be that bad for you…).
We currently could have up to five different ‘generations’ of workers, all with very different goals, personalities and work styles, or so the media would like you to believe. The truth is, though, we’re all different as individuals. Some millennials are really interested in taking on lots of different career paths throughout their lives, whereas others have a very set path. Some ‘Gen Z’s are tech-savvy and obsessed with their iPhones, whereas others simply aren’t. My twelve year old sister, for example, spends more time training to become a professional ballet dancer than she does on any piece of technology; she’s incredibly dedicated, and she knows what she wants.
We’re individuals. There are millennials I have absolutely nothing in common with, and Boomers I get on with like a house on fire.
(Side note: who came up with these ridiculous names?! Whoever is responsible for ‘Baby Boomers’ is the real villain of this story.)
Adapting your work styles to suit ‘generations’ just isn’t going to work. We all need the flexibility to work in our own individual ways, instead of how whatever predominant generation is perceived to work by the media.
To quote an inspirational public speaker we can all identify with, the crying girl from Mean Girls: ‘I wish that I could bake a cake made out of rainbows and smiles, and everyone would eat it and be happy.’
Let’s all try and catch ourselves out when making assumptions about any ‘generation’ and instead focus on what that individual can bring to the table, and we can work towards a world of work that Crying Girl herself would be proud of.
If you enjoyed reading this, you’re definitely going to enjoy reading next week’s Fun Friday in HR, so make sure to bookmark this page and tune in next week to the Youmanage blog for more fabby HR fun.