It's the Long Weekend: Set Your Millennials Free!

You will thank me for this advice. It’s Friday of Memorial Day weekend, the official start of the summer.  All those projects that are piling up? They will just have to wait.

Just because you, as a Boomer, or an early wave Xer like me, grew up in a “Work Is Life” culture, does not mean Millennials feel the same way about work.

All Work, No Play?

In the 1980’s, Boomers changed the definition of work. Work used to be punching time cards from 9 to 5 in factory-like precision. Remember when the work whistle went off for Fred Flintstone—Yaba Daba Do! But in the Boomer world of work, it was in early, out late. Once they were through their rebellious adolescence, Boomer adult took work seriously, some would say too seriously. They shattered the 9 to 5 paradigm and put meaning to the term ‘workaholic’.

BOOMERS on work: Work-Centric

The Ends Trump the Means

In the 1990’s Generation X redefined the work environment once again with a pay for performance mentality. For a GenXer, it didn’t matter how long you worked, it mattered that the job got done. These techno-literates used their creativity and adaptability to find new way to solve problems. And still find time for work/life balance. GenX Google founders Larry Page and Sergi Brim personified this ethic and built their $50 billion tech juggernaut.

GEN-X’s on work: Work/Life balance

Ummm… I just want a Life

Now here come the Millennials and once again, they will be redefining the work environment (but probably not until over 50% of them are over 30 in the 2020’s, replacing GenXers in management positions). In the meantime, what are their priorities on work and what is best way to motivate them?

First, recognize that family and friends always come first for Millennials. Their parents are BFF and their friends are their lifeline to… life—companionship, entertainment, activities, romance, etc. This does not mean that work is unimportant, but it does mean you have to understand their priorities.

Second, meaningful work is a meaningful life. Millennials want to do work that has an impact on the world around them. Can you connect the dots between their work and how it improves the lives of others? Barney & Barney, a successful insurance broker in California, has a thriving Foundation that contributes to the communities they serve. This really attracts the Millennials and they will put in the extra hours if they know it has meaning.

Lastly, and this is my GenX voice talking, define the goals you want them to achieve, and don’t meddle in the means to get there. Be clear about the goals, check in frequently on their progress (be positive and constructive) and give them the tools they need, but don’t make them stick around on a Friday if they can manage to finish the work on Thursday.

Millennials on work: Work-life Integration

Don’t stress out you Boomers… there’s always Monday… or in this case, Tuesday.


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