There is a plethora of theory on the web with top tips on how best to “engage, retain and recruit the millennial”. Having scanned and absorbed much of it, I’ve come to the conclusion that too many businesses are jumping on this management bandwagon. And in doing so, they could be creating an incredibly damaging and limiting management strategy for their business.
As Liz Barker-Woods wrote in The Guardian, if you stereotype all the “special unicorns” you run the risk of impacting employee engagement by generalising that all sub-33-year-olds are the same – tarring them all as narcissistic, privileged and obnoxious. But is the world really that simple? Does everyone born after 1977 have an inflated sense of his or her own self worth and entitlement?
Instead of encouraging your employees to thrive and learn as individuals, by jumping onto the millennial theory bandwagon, you are running the risk of demotivating and disenfranchising many of them. Not every one born of this generation will be motivated by regular feedback, varied work, development opportunities and flexibility. What about the 23-year-old, born of a low income family, who by work and ambition was the first in their family to complete a university degree, but has no career map reference points of what opportunities are open to them? Wouldn’t it be better to motivate this person as an individual rather than assuming that advancement was all they craved? How do they even know what their career path might be if they, as yet, have few mentors?
Is everyone who is a part of Gen Y really impressed by cool break-out areas and volunteering options? They might not share your choice of colour scheme or cause – will they be as motivated as you think? Blanket generalisation across any workforce, gender or generation group is extremely dangerous for an employer and incredibly shortsighted.
What is key to remember, however, is that although this post-1977 generation has been brought up in a new media age, they haven’t all been impacted in the same way, and assuming so would be dangerous. Not every 30 year old has a Facebook, Twitter and Google+ account – they still might need help to figure these things out. There are cultural, regional, religious and environmental impacts on the individual that make them who they are – an individual with diverse needs that can’t and shouldn’t be stereotyped.
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