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Why Working with Millennials is a Challenge

Apparently millennials (those born after 1984), as a generation, are tough to manage.  They are accused of being unfocused, entitled, lazy, narcissistic, etc. but the biggest accusation is entitlement.  Because of this, managers are confounded by working with millennials and have begun asking millennials what they want in a work place? The response, in general, is that they want to work in a place that has a purpose, want to make an impact, and want things like free food and a creative work environment.  Yet after management has met these requests, for some reasons millennials continue to be dissatisfied in the workplace.  But what is causing the millennials to be dissatisfied at work? Here are four characteristics that attribute to decreased satisfaction among millennials in the workplace.


1. Parenting

The general thought here is that millennials have grown up in a world of "failed parenting strategies".  Millennials have been told that they were special from a young age and well into adulthood.  They were told that could do anything in life.  Parents would force the schools to accommodate their children for things like honors classes and special areas, not because they were qualified, but because the parent thought it was their child's right to be in the honors classes.  They received things like "participation" awards not because they deserved a metal but because it was "fair".  But science has proven that the child receiving a participation award actually feels worse because the know they do not deserve the award, while devaluing the hard work of those who came in first or second place.  

So these millennials graduate college and are now finally in the real world where they come to the harsh reality that they are, in fact, not special.  Their mom cannot get them a promotion and they do not get an award for participating and their entire world view and self esteem is shattered.  Thus making millennials the group with the lowest self-esteem to ever enter the workplace.  

2. Technology

Engaging with social media and our cell phones releases a chemical called dopamine.  That is why when someone likes your pictures or sends you a text, it feels good. Dopamine is also the same chemical our brains release when we do things like smoke, drink or gamble.  Or in other words, dopamine creates addiction.  So our brains literally become addicted to likes on Facebook and text messages.  Interestingly enough, we have age restrictions on gambling, drinking and smoking, but we do not have any restrictions on technology.  

Why this is important: As a child, the only approval we need is that of our parents.  But as we grow older, our need for approval is found in our peers.  This often leads to things like drinking or smoking (or the addiction to dopamine) to help young persons help with the stresses and anxieties of coping with adolescence.  But with millennials, their drug of choice has become technology and as they age, they are finding it difficult to form deep and meaningful relationships because they did not learn the skills to have deep meaningful relationships.  Technology is just as addictive as gambling or drinking and is becoming detrimental to millennials by causing them to feel alone and disconnected.  

3. Impatience

Millennials have grown up in a world filled with instant gratification.  If they need something quickly, they can order it from Amazon.  If they want to watch TV or movies, they can just go online.  However, when it comes to job satisfaction and relationships, there is no instant gratification and no app can give that satisfaction.  What millennials lack is the ability to have patience to build things like love, joy, satisfaction, self-esteem, and these things plain just take time.  Sometimes you can expedite pieces of these areas, but millennials need to have the ability to ask for help to push themselves forward which is a skill they did not necessarily learn.  


4. Environment 

What is happening is millennials are being thrust into these corporate areas that focus more on the end goals versus the millennials and it is causing millennials to feel even more lost than they did before.  Millennials, in turn, believe that something is wrong with them because they are not conforming to the environment.  But the reality is that the companies needs to be focusing on how to build the millennials up and teach them the skills to be successful.

So what does this mean for the managers of the world? It means that they have more responsibility for their employees success than ever before.  They have to take the time to teach them some of the basic skills they may not have on top of helping them grow professionally.  But it also means that millennials need to take a step back from technology.  So often they are focusing on the phone or computer that they are not giving themselves the opportunity to really dig deep into their innovation.  

Jackie Vore 01.04.2017 1 311
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  •  Janet Eriksson: 
    This is brilliant and insightful. Incredibly helpful in understanding the challenges millennials struggle with and how to help them. Part of my job is working with people who are trying to fill in the gaps of the foundation they were raised with. Your insights will help me in working with folks from this age group. Thanks for sharing.
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01.04.2017 (930 days ago)
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