The Intergenerational Workplace: What is Considered “Millennial” Really Benefits Us All

Football has been in the news for a lot of important reasons lately, but today I’d like to talk about a change in football and other sports that is less reported. Over the past few years, I’ve become fascinated with how athletic coaching techniques are evolving to better support millennial players.

The most recent example is an article about virtual reality screens that makes players’ images life-size, allowing the team to interact as though they were on the field during film sessions, rather than just passively watching. This was the part of the story that impressed me the most:

“It’s not just rookies embracing the technology. Sixth-year safety Duke Ihenacho, who signed with the Giants in May, is excited about using the video screen in training camp. ‘I think it’s great for young guys. It’s great for the older guys, too,’ Ihenacho said.”

And that’s the core of my advocacy for many of the advances we’re seeing in the workplace that are typically attributed to attracting and retaining millennials: Most of them are equally appreciated by all generations in the workplace.

In Intergenerational Workplace Environments, Millennials Lead the Charge For ‘More’

In my experience, millennials tend to want the training, development, leadership, communication, benefits and other professional experiences the entire intergenerational workforce wants; they are just more vocal and willing to articulate their needs earlier in their careers. Previous generations of young professionals might have craved a better working environment, but we didn’t think we could get it so we just accepted the status quo.

Workplace Advances That All Generations Enjoy

Here are five workplace advances often defined as millennial desires, which in actuality the entire intergenerational workforce appreciates. Organizations that up their game in any or all of these areas will see higher engagement from employees of all generations.

1. Work/Life Flexibility

When I first started my career, I thought flexibility of work hours was something reserved for parents, who had to earn this perk through years of service. Now work/life “balance” is expected by almost everyone, including single, entry-level workers both male and female. And this makes total sense: a flexible work environment is just as appealing to a dad coaching his teen’s soccer team as it is to a millennial ducking out for a lunchtime boot camp class.

2. Training and Development

While a Gallup study found that 87 percent of millennials say “professional or career growth and development opportunities” are important to them, nearly 70 percent of non-millennials did as well. In today’s volatile world, staying agile is important to absolutely everyone.

3. Variety

It can be demoralizing for anyone to trudge through the same activities, day in and day out. Fortunately, in today’s Knowledge Economy, the rote job model is largely gone. Even factory jobs are more diverse, often requiring frequently changing STEM skills. Progressive organizations allow workers at every level more opportunity to cross-train and learn new skills in short-term rotational assignments, project pools or flexibility of work locations to keep their jobs and brains fresh.

4. Good Bosses

No one likes to be barked at, but many older generations just put up with the “command and control” style of leadership as the law of the land. Enter millennials, who are more used to “peerenting,” and authority figures such as teachers and college advisors who took on the role of coaches more than commanders. Today, employees of all ages are less willing to work with a manager they don’t like. In fact, a Gallup study found that half of adults had left their job specifically because of a bad boss.

5. Meaning and Purpose

Millennials may have pushed the conversation about finding purpose at work, but all generations embrace the concept, according to the 2016 Global Purpose Index, developed by consulting firm Imperative. Strikingly, 48 percent of Baby Boomers and 38 percent of Gen Xers were purpose-driven at work, compared to 30 percent of millennials. Even those who are not explicitly purpose driven will appreciate leaders who care about more than profits.

I’d love to hear what you’ve found in your workplace that was initially considered to be a millennial perk but now all generations appreciate. Share on Twitter or in the comments below.

Lindsey Pollak is the leading expert on millennials and the multigenerational workplace, trusted by global companies, universities, and the world’s top media outlets. A New York Times bestselling author and keynote speaker, Lindsey began her career as a dorm RA in college and has been mentoring millennials — and explaining them to other generations — ever since. Her presentations have audiences so engaged that, in the words of one attendee, “I didn’t check my phone once!” Contact Lindsey to discuss a speaking engagement for your organization.

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Lindsey is a globally recognized career and workplace expert and the leading voice on generational diversity. She has spoken for more than 300 audiences including Google, Goldman Sachs, Estee Lauder, Stanford and Wharton. Lindsey is the author of four career and workplace advice books, and her insights have appeared in media outlets including The TODAY Show, CNBC, NPR, the Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal.


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