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Closing the Workplace Generation Gap

Millennials have surpassed baby boomers as the largest labor force generation group in the United States, with an estimated peak population of more than 75 million, according to the Pew Research Center. Having spent most of their lives using communications technology like the Internet, many millennials in the workforce today still struggle against the negative connotation of being the lazy or entitled generation.

If you're a boomer or Gen-X worker who wants to start bridging the gap, try to remember what life was like when you started out in the workplace. You had something to prove, wanting to be respected while utilizing your college preparation. You wanted a company and manager to give you a chance, so you could show your passion for making a difference.

Though older generations grew up with different cultural events and economic standards, they can relate to the core motivation to set a career foundation. So what can employers do to eliminate the workplace generational gap? Consider these five steps to improve employee understanding and motivation, inspired by direct feedback from current millennials in the workforce.

  1. Allow flexibility, but require responsibility. When possible, allow remote work for higher employee morale, while keeping workers accountable for project measurables and timelines.

    What millennials say:

    "Having the opportunity to work from home can be very empowering. It enables me to strengthen my time-management skills while allowing some individual freedoms that do not come with the suit, office and a standard 9-5. For instance, I like to spend my lunch doing yoga in my living room… Remote work allows me to be just as efficient as I would be in a cubicle, if not more, while also providing the space to feel creative in the small details."


  2. Trust and avoid micromanagement. Be clear with your expectations but allow young professionals to be creative. Guide them, but don't belittle them or take tasks from them.

    What millennials say:

    "I don't look for paper pushing jobs. I want to work in an organization where I can make an impact and have a stance in direction. As millennials, we grew up in a time where we were told that we can make a difference, so give us that chance to prove our impact."

    "I truly value a company that allows me to foster and grow as an individual professional. Give me the confidence and trust to make my own path. I had a previous employer that always had its thumb on me. It didn't allow me to grow, learn, succeed, or even fail. This stifled my will to excel, and the workplace was no longer enjoyable."


  3. Teach process, workflow and patience, knowing that millennials are inherently better with technology. Focus on making employees well-rounded with experience and best practices in hand. Millennials' natural technology depth will work to your advantage in finding next-level solutions.

    What millennials say:

    "I am working on a project that allows me to show off my knowledge on the customer experience, but also assists others to learn, grow and better themselves as professionals. This project also ties into the millennial generation and how the customer experiences have changed due to technology and generational differences. It's an opportunity that not many companies would allow a new employee to take on."


  4. Have real discussions where you listen, acknowledge their expertise and training and allow them to try things when it seems reasonable. Millennials seek feedback for their hard work. They're also looking for a reward when it's due. They are willing to put in extra work to get to that next level of acknowledgement, so give credit when credit is due for providing genuine value for the company.

    What millennials say:

    "I enjoy working for a company that will try new things to make us work the most effectively. Employers need to be futuristic and understand that things change, so you have to change with the times to stay current."

    "I look for an environment where there is potential for me to grow skills and responsibility while also earning reward for the earned work put in."


  5. Provide open communication and set them up for success. As a boss, state reasons why you feel the way you do or why you've come to a conclusion and teach as needed. If there are knowledge gaps in new employees, don't leave them to fail. Give them the proper training and hands-on experience to help them grow.

    What millennials say:

    "Time and financial investments were made to ensure that I had all of the right tools to become an expert in my field. It makes an employee feel valued when your employer takes a risk on you, trusting that you will be a future asset."


Today's young professionals' age doesn't dull their potential value to a workplace. Utilize their inherent tech savvy and creative thinking to propel the organization into the future while aligning with their professional goals. With this mindset, your facility will operate more effectively with cohesive communication.

To see more healthcare executive insight, check out additional HITStoltenblog posts.