What Millennials Should Know About Today’s Workplace

millennials in the workplace

Older generations(usually the Generation X and Baby Boomers) often criticize millennials about a lot of things. Prominent among these complaints is the work habits of millennials. The Generation Xers are often amused and sometimes annoyed by the unrealistic expectations millennials have of workplaces today. While millennials bring much-needed youthful energy and unorthodox, but effective ways of doing things to the workplace, there are a few false expectations they have of “work”. This is reflected in the number of articles online that try to teach employers how to retain younger workers and even go as far as making recommendations on how to make their offices more “millennial-friendly”. The truth of the matter is that while employers seek to accommodate every well-performing worker, millennials need to improve on their workplace habits and expectations of what they will meet when they sign up for their first jobs. For millennials looking to set themselves apart from their peers, these are a few things to know when you turn up for work.

  1. Work means just that…“WORK”: When you arrive at work, be ready to start work immediately. Several millennials have made their regular work hours of 9 to 5 more fluid and are content to have left home on or before 9 am. That, paired with unreadiness to start work even after arriving late is the first thing to blacklist your millennial employees for. As a millennial, one of the first things you must know is that work – especially at your level(I’m assuming entry-level here) isn’t going to be fun. Don’t hope for a Google-type work environment and unlimited snacks because the company wants one thing from you – your input, and they will only provide the necessary tools for that…most of the time anyway. If you want to get that salary raise or promotion, you need to put in, not just the required amount of quality work, but also be better than everyone else at your level.
  2. Learn to work with other generations: Keep in mind that most of the people you meet at work won’t be the same fresh-out-of-university employees that you are. According to Jenna Goodreau, there are now four different generations in any regular workplace today. These are the interns(or generation Z), the employees(gen Y), those at manager level(gen X) and the executives, comprising of mostly Baby Boomers. Learning how to relate with these different generations will be vital to your progress in any workplace. Keep in mind that each generation grew up in a different time and so have slightly different views of the workplace, what is permitted there and what is not allowed.
  3. A promotion will take time: You won’t get promoted after a year. You won’t become one of the company executives after working for four years.  If you want to advance fast, you must be prepared to work harder than everyone else eyeing the promotion. Advancement in a company is a long game and it certainly won’t be accomplished by coming late to work and not being prepared when you eventually show up.
  4. Work will affect your social life: Forget the parties you had every other night while at school and the almost-daily hangouts with friends, having a full time job means being mindful about late nights and sobriety – at least during the week. Social engagements will have to make way for your work and requesting to leave the office early on a regular basis for no serious reason can get you fired (yes, it’s THAT serious).
  5. Don’t expect more than your paycheck: There’s an open letter written to the CEO of Yelp by a millennial employee who complained that her floor, meant for low-experience workers didn’t receive enough work snacks and that workers also weren’t allowed to take these snacks home. Sidenote: She was fired afterward. This is a classic example of expecting more benefits from the workplace than what is required. While some companies provide a lot of perks for their staff, it’s important that workers don’t come to expect or rely on these perks. Added benefits are good, but your compensation for the work done is your wage and career advancement, everything else can be done without.

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