I am a Millennial and throughout my short time in the workforce, I’ve had the opportunity to attend conferences and meetings where the subject of millennials (Gen Y employees) frequently comes up. Often in the Q&A session of a conference, a seasoned manager will bring up a challenge he or she experiences with a younger employee. The challenge is immediately attributed to a generational difference.
Generational differences in the workplace are real and are the subjects of countless blogs and articles. For example, you can find commentary on the topic here, here, and here. But I have a secret for those of all generations — we all want the same thing.
And what is it that we all want? To feel valued.
What makes millennials unique to manage is their definition of what it actually means to be valued.
In an unscientific (but true to millennial form) survey of my Facebook friends, I found that there is not a singular definition of a millennial’s ideal work environment. Each person who responded shared different characteristics about what makes an ideal work environment. To some it was the opportunity for continuing education, for others it was the opportunities for promotion or flexibility in the work schedule.
As someone who manages millennials, if you want to know what makes us feel valued, ask us. The mere act of asking (and acting on what you learn) shows you value your millennial employees.
While each generation may have its own unique and defining characteristics, the principle of feeling valued is timeless. The takeaway in all of this is stop studying what makes millennials unique and start asking your millennial employees what actions you can take as a manager to let them know you and the organization value them.