A workplace plan for millenials, bean bags and the CEOs they drive bat-shit crazy.

Millennials have earned a reputation for being entitled, selfish and lazy. Companies struggle to manage this generation, which seems to spend most of their workday hiding behind electronic communication and social media. CEOs regularly share with me that they feel millennials lack focus, struggle to work full workweeks, and are way too optimistic. This is driving business leaders absolutely bat-shit crazy. The War on Talent and this topic of millennials is actually the biggest challenge for some businesses right now.

But I can’t help asking myself if workplace millennials are just the new version of my generation (Gen X) and whether they’ll soon be complaining about the generation after them.

 

The irony here is that the same generations who relentlessly whine about millennials are the same people who created them. So you’d think we could undo what we have done. Instead, companies are trying to solve these workplace problems with beanbags and flextime. Yet businesses are frustrated because they can’t retain young employees and millennials don’t feel successful.

 

So, how do we fix this gap?

Determined to understand this nagging issue for myself and my CEO friends, I went on a fact-finding mission and reviewed several pieces of incredible research on this subject. I came to one simple idea:

 

COMPANIES NEED TO START LEADING, GUIDING, AND MENTORING MILLENIALS.

Millennials grew up in a vastly different world than earlier generations. They enjoyed a stable economy, a lifetime of technology and information at their fingertips, and schedules

created by us, their parents.

 

We accuse them of having a weaker work ethic, but they’re also bright, worldly, ambitious, creative, and far more polite than their older peers. Millennials are actually pretty amazing people who could ironically teach older generations a thing or two. I learn something new every day from our awesome millennial team.

 

This generation is our future and our soon-to-be leaders. They just don’t know – what they don’t know. It’s our responsibility to mentor them, toughen them up, and teach them the value of a dollar, all while respecting their very different value system…one that we created for them.

 

I challenge my fellow business owners to ditch the beanbags and come up with a better plan.

 

  1.     Assign workplace mentors
  2.     Listen to millennials’ ideas with an open mind
  3.     Shake up routines
  4.     Ditch the annual review and provide constant feedback
  5.     Promote your company’s values
  6.     Provide opportunities to expand industry knowledge
  7.     Encourage creativity and innovation
  8.     Increase your professional development budget

 

I’ll wrap up with a simple message for baby boomers and Gen Xers: Please stop complaining. Millennials were raised in a much different world than us. Instead, start to guide and mentor them so they have the opportunity to experience successful business. Challenge them. Let them fail. Help them back up. Let them live on their own. And when they learn all you have to teach them; they will take us to a higher level than where we are today.