No, Millennials Aren’t The Problem In The Workplace

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Daniel Powers Jr Business Coaching If you are a business owner or the leader of an HR department or just someone hiring, you are looking at a workforce that is fundamentally different than years past. The Greatest Generation has laid the foundation for the structure and values this capitalistic country was founded on. Baby boomers have mostly receded into retirement, Generation Me… to be honest I am not sure what they contributed to the country, Generation X, Y (my generation) we (I assume) are the proud owners of the current economy holding most of the mortgages, jobs, businesses, debt and stress. Then there are Millennials and Generation Z.

“Millennials”. I am growing to dislike how that word is used as a derogatory term. To prepare for this post, let’s ask some questions. Are you a business person or owner hiring? Have you tried to hire people recently and found that they don’t connect with your business, don’t have a work ethic or don’t care? Are you frustrated because “Millennials” come and go plus can’t make a commitment?

Does anyone relate to this?

Well I may have news for you. The problem isn’t Millennials. The problem may be you or your company’s culture.

As shocking as they may or may not sound, let me say it one more time “Yes you are the problem”. So let’s pretend I am right for a few minutes to explore it. First maybe visit Simon Sinek’s viral video going around about the Millennial generation as a prerequisite for this blog. The parallels are the same- it’s still our fault, or maybe your company’s fault that we aren’t relating to them or just setting them up to fail. Here are a few ideas to help you clarify the “why” here. I’ll put them in question form:

  1. Do you have a positive and fun culture? As I’ve written before, it’s incredibly important to have a culture at work that makes people want to show up and be present. It’s not enough in this day and age to just offer a job and be successful and I can (almost) guarantee that if you create a culture where everyone is valued, where everyone has weekly check-ins and status in the company that employees will not only want to work for you, but even go so far to take a pay cut for the future rewards. People want to be a part of something special.
  2. You (or your company reps) spend too much time blaming other people? If you you have high turnover, you probably need to look at your hiring process, revisit what your ideal employee is and maybe your company value set. Then specifically what in your culture should be. I’ve visited incredible organizations that are taking the lead here and revamping what they give to their employees. I’ve seen some head scratchers like nap cubicles, a free barista in the lobby, unlimited snacks and a full bar setup a la “Mad Men”. Point is, employees have more options today. They are more educated and therefore more picky. Instead of asking why do you want them to work for you, why do they want to work for you?
  3. What is your company vision? Is your company vision juicy? Meaning, when you tell it to people or perspective employees, their eyes become huge and they immediately start weeping tears of joy? That may be ridiculous (obviously) but how close can you get to not only thrilling your customers but your employees.

We have a responsibility as employers to revamp our companies to not only reflect our values, but to confirm it so it’s a reflection of our employees values. In a world where we are consuming more information and performing more tasks within 1 minute than most people 40 years ago would consume in a month, how can we possibly have ask our employees to just show up for work? What’s in it for them?

(Please check out the links in this article. They truly support the points.)



7 Ways To Build A Great Culture

Credit: Zappos
Credit: Zappos

Don't have a great culture at work? Let's build one together starting right now. And see Zappos for culture 101

As an employee, I grew in businesses with eye-rolling bosses, unapproachable managers and straight up scary people. I worked in construction, as an law office assistant, in retail, in management and elsewhere. When I made a decision to open my own business I knew I was going to be a great boss because of my background... I was going to do the exact opposite of what people did around me in my various roles year prior. I would create a home outside of a home.

Over the years the culture has evolved quite a bit- but not the "home" portion.

  1. Define your values. When people are reacting in a way that aligns with your beliefs and values, you will find an inner peace at work that is unbreakable. Define yours today and post it. Evangelize.
  2. Get rid of anyone that doesn't fit in to your value set. Hire slowly and fire quickly. Get rid of dead wood or anchors slowing you down.
  3. Learn how to control your emotions. Stay in a peak state always and learn how to stay positive and motivated all day in front of your employees. Study how your state affects others.
  4. Speak to your employees one-on-one & OFTEN. Employee reviews and even simple chatter matter. Know what's going on in your employee's life and coach them. Make sure their trajectory aligns with yours because if it doesn't, you will always have high turnover.
  5. Create in-house activities. A simple dance party at 11AM everyday will kick everything up a notch everyday.
  6. Empower and coach. Today's workforce wants to be involved. They want to matter. They don't have to be involved in the everyday important decisions but opening up discussion about issues or opportunity keeps everyone engaged. Don't be a caged business owner.
  7. Keep the spirit alive. Innovate. Celebrate. Keep your passion alive no matter what the odds of you making payroll next week or whatever stress you may have.