Unlocking the secrets of millennials in the workplace
Search the term “millennials” on the internet and you’ll find a slew of articles, essays and think-pieces trying to figure out the inner workings of the first generation to come of age in the new millennium.
There is no specific dates that define the scope of the millennial generation, but many agree that it consists of people born between 1980 and 2000. That’s a pretty large age range and covers a large number of people – more than 80 million, by many accounts — but that hasn’t stopped some from trying to analyze, categorize, summarize and proselytize about the various ways in which millennials are doing, well, everything.
There are headlines about how millennials are killing countless industries, from golf to cereal, and business surveys breaking down every aspect of millennials’ buying habits. There is also endless analysis about millennials’ work force participation and work habits — something that UC Berkeley is taking on in its own program aimed at helping employers manage what is sometimes portrayed as an alien group.
Berkeley Executive Education, a division of the university’s Haas School of Business, is building a program completely around demystifying millennials in the work force. Held in early February, it’s a two-day program called #ManagingMillennials: Unleashing the Power of Millennials.
The course: “After completing this program, you will understand how key generational differences impact our interactions in the workplace,” the website reads. “These differences include communication, expectations, motivation and values. Once you are able to grasp these key concepts, you will attract, motivate and retain millennials, while maintaining a positive culture.”
It does not give more specific information about the content of the course, but course, instructor Holly Schroth, a social psychologist and senior lecturer at Haas, has written in the past about her finding that “millennials want to be respected.”
“This may not seem controversial, but it is the crux of difficult relations between millennials and Gen X/Boomers in the workplace,” Schroth wrote in an article on LinkedIn earlier this year. “Millennials indicate that they initially respect the authority of the boss but will quickly lose that respect if the boss doesn’t show this respect back.”
That’s different from older generations who were brought up to automatically respect and “be obedient” to authority, Schroth said. Of course, it’s not hard to imagine those generations would want respect from their employers, as well.
It seems much of the frenzy around figuring out millennials comes from a notion that this generation is opportunistic and hops between jobs rather quickly, but a study from the Pew Research Center found that workers ages 18 to 35 are just as likely to stay with their employers as members of Generation X were when they were young adults. Among the college-educated, millennials have longer tenures with their employers than Generation X workers did in 2000, when they were in the same age range as millennials are today.