Feeling the Pressure
We are constantly inundated with content about the Millennial generation, much of which either criticizes or applauds this generation, expresses their potential for success, or asserts the likelihood that they will "fail" (ironically, research shows that the Millennial generation is the most stressed of any generation). Whatever direction the subject may take, though, the bottom line is that there's a huge amount of content being generated and consumed, about this generation. This fact in itself should challenge us to take a deeper dive into the reason why we're seeing so much content about Millennials, and what the involuntary impact of such attention might be.
Why is there so Much Talk About the Millennial Generation?
Statistically, there are several factors that make this group unique compared with past generations, and since what is different generally garners attention, it makes sense that people inherently want to talk about Millennials. They are the largest generation in American history (~75 million strong), could make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, and have the highest levels of educational attainment of any generation. Growing up during the great recession and amidst a turbulent economy has likely also influenced the "all eyes on Millennials" feel. How will this generation combat such factors as historically high student loan debts and unemployment rates? We can also look to technological advancements and the rise of social media as factors, there is now, more than ever, a need to be constantly connected and "in the know."
Millennials, Media Stereotyping & Implications for Your Workforce
Amidst the surge of content about Millennials we should remind ourselves of a few things, including that media stereotyping is typical, and is often used to get the public to consume an idea with little thought. While the facts seen may be sound, how they are presented could be another story. With this in mind it's important to be cognizant and open to considering any unconscious bias one may have.
As we are poised to have (for the first time in history) as many as five generations working side by side, successfully navigating a multigenerational workforce will be critical for workplaces. In a recent blog from Northwestern University, Nicholas Pearce, a clinical assistant professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School explains that, "A lot of intergenerational tension is the result of unconscious bias... It takes humility and self-awareness to appreciate difference and then leverage it in ways that both improve the culture and grow the organization."
At Great Place to Work®, we know that diversity is an asset. Studies show that companies with diverse workforces perform better financially, and we see Best Companies consistently invest substantial time and resources towards fostering diverse and inclusive workforces where all people and perspectives are welcomed and valued. Generational diversity is no different; it should be seen as asset for an organization, and not a liability.
Kate Reid is a contributing writer at Great Place to Work®.