There is much written about the generational differences between the Baby Boomers, those born between 1945 and 1965, and the Millennials, the 20-somethings that are slowly taking over the workplace. A lot of it has to do with productivity and work ethic, and it’s usually pro Boomers and con Millennials. It also has a lot to do with whose measurements are used to gauge productivity.
Boomers were very loyal, dependable rule-followers who wanted to please the boss, stay at the same job and get a gold watch and a pension for all their hard work. They didn’t mind working overtime and got things done according to schedule. It’s no wonder Boomers think that Millennials aren’t as productive as they were. But Millennials have a different way of working, being the generation that never knew life without the Internet or a cell phone. They aren’t tied to a land line office phone. They don’t have to be at a work station in front of a PC. They can work, talk, do research, take a meeting and share information using their Smartphones. The rules have changed, and so has the measure of productivity.
Trying to fit Millennials into the Boomer world is counter-productive. In fact, a Forbes article suggested eight ways to change the workplace to take advantage of Millenials’ style of productivity. Like it or not, the Boomers are on their way out. Millennials, and their older counterparts, Gen X and Gen Y, are taking over the corner office and mid-level cubicles. They are taking over as floor managers and supervisors in retail stores. Their work environment will need different tools than policies to fit the new management.
One way the environment is changing is that we are seeing charging stations popping up in stores all over the country. All the digital devices are hungry for power, and all those little batteries need to be fed periodically to keep the millennials working and productive. These charging stations will become as commonplace as electrical outlets and power strips.
Instead of office policies banning cell phones from meetings and checking personal online accounts, workers will be connected by emails, texts, tweets, Facebook posts, face time and Skype meetings. Who wants to sit through a 50-slide PowerPoint presentation with blocks of boring text when you can watch a video or schedule a podcast at your convenience using your personal Smartphone? Workforce In Motion predicted that in seven years, Millennials will represent half of retail workers. Retail employers would be smart to understand the unique needs of Millennials in order to engage them and help them use their unique talents to be productive.
Millennials are learners, and need to be challenged. They also value mentoring. Not afraid to say they don’t know or understand something, they value training and feedback, but also want their ideas to be valued and appreciated. Investing time and yes, money, in training and opportunity go a long way to engaging and keeping millennials working and engaged.
During the past recessions, millennials didn’t change their buying habits that much. They buy for brand, price and like the approval of their friends for their purchases. Retail stores and manufacturers can win the heart and loyalty of millenials by promoting a feeling of community and supporting community or environmental causes--being a part of something bigger than themselves and having a positive impact on the community or the world.
Instead of changing the millennials to fit into a fading work model, why not adapt the retail environment to fit their new way of working. It can be a win for both generations.
Photo Source: Freedigitalphotos.net