Millennials have grown up with the technology to complete tasks that years ago would take hours to do and have mastered the use of such. This often can be an issue in an office of multi-generations. Those of older generations have systems and ways of doing things that may still work, but have become antiquated. Yet changing the processes of how things are done takes time and some times the aging out of the older management. The challenge that this creates can be the cause of much tension between young and old. The youthful worker can complete tasks often times quicker and more efficiently and yet how they do it isn’t in the establish company system.
When hiring a new employee you often go over the way things are done, the protocols, the policies and the systems and here’s where the break down can begin….
Teaching a millennial to use a fax machine that has to use the long distance area codes. . .
Uh… what’s the point in faxing something when I can just take a picture with my phone and text, email, message or post what ever I need to send? Plus now there are programs that allow you to virtual sign contracts and laws have been established to allow these to be valid signatures. Oh and by the way what’s long distance?
Any of this sound familiar? (and frustrating…why can’t they just do it the way we’ve been doing it for years?)
Here's the upside to this situation:
If you can be open to changes you may have just found someone who can and will help bring your office into a more efficient era. Your productivity can improve and you may even save money by adopting some of the virtual ideas.
But how do we get everyone on the same page and accept changes AND how do we teach this new employee that some things are still done the old way for a good reason and cannot be changed?
The key hear is communication.
Listening to the new ideas and going through and assessing on whether they would be a good change to institute. This assessment can open up a conversation between the old and new. When looking at the advantages and disadvantages you can also explain the "why" to your young worker.
The truth about many millennials is that they were often sheltered, coddled or parented by a helicopter parent, which means that they were only allowed to see a certain part of the world. Many times you’ll find that they don’t know why things are done, just that they are done a certain way and it’s too slow or boring or, etc. Taking the time to explain the "why" behind things will allow the younger worker to understand how things are done and then, they may still be able to come up with a way to help improve on it without sacrificing the intent.
This also creates respect. Any person working with someone who respects their opinion will be more inclined to be patient and willing to understand.
Maybe the office can’t change the way they send their mail, because the 60 year old who runs the mailroom is not able to grasp the technology and they’re like one of the family so firing them isn’t an option.
Maybe doing all contracts online doesn’t work because the client is of the generation where they want to have something solid to hold and look at.
Maybe having all files online doesn’t work because the building doesn’t have very good wiring and a short could cause the whole system to crash.
But when these are not communicated it can seem to the younger worker that they are not being heard or used to their full ability. Then you’re down an employee because they’re off to another company who will use them.
A millennial worker in general isn’t a disrespectful lazy employee as still too often believed. They are living at a fast speed of life and desire to bring everything into that pace and when they are asked to slow down they don’t understand why they need to unless they are told.
It’s funny in this day and age when almost everything can be found at the touch of your finger tips, the "why" is often lost. It’s pigeonholed as history and lost in the drudgery of life. Sometimes it takes youthful exuberance to shake things up and dust off the reasons why some things are they way they are.
Helping candidates understand this will also increase your ability to place and keep a millennial at a new job. More and more the younger generations are in need of someone to teach them the forgotten etiquette of life. Tying a tie used to be an issue, but now the issue has become why they need to wear a tie in the first place. Putting away the phone or better yet don’t bring it in to the interview at all should be common sense and yet separating a person from their phone is like asking them to cut off their arm. Little things like these are important to teach and explaining the "why" behind them will help them to be absorbed.
It’s time to share the wisdom and see what a millennial can do with it and their technology!