Balancing Millennial expectations in relation to the older Boomers is one of translating perspectives. These two generations are the largest generation groups in the US population. The Millennials are an increasing workplace demographic in relation to Boomers, due to immigration and attrition as Boomers reach retirement age. As a generation, Millennials are the children of the Boomers. But their respective ‘coming of age' stories differ dramatically.
Millennials are highly educated.
The Millennials attended college in higher rates than the previous two generations. They graduated college during an economic downturn. And they graduated with higher amounts of college debt than previous generations. In fact, 46 percent of them boomeranged homeward after graduating college, given their reduced job prospects, and this has given Boomers the impression that Millennials have a sense of entitlement. Really, the perception of ‘entitlement' is a consequence of their prospects. The Millennials see that they made compromises in their career objectives due to the Great Recession, and they expect rapid advancement once the economy improves. They also perceive that they will have two to five employers in their work lives. This sentiment has shaped their life-to-work balance, since their prospect for advancement has been deferred. And yet 70 percent of Millennials are hopeful of better times and greater economic advancement.
Millennials are digital natives.
The Millennials are the first generation raised entirely with digital platforms and technology. They grew up with social media platforms and never had to adapt to the digital world like Gen-Xers and Boomers did. They prefer to work and communicate digitally, which older generations find off-putting, preferring face-to-face interactions and solutions. Millennials expect to be recognized for their facility with technology.
Millennials are more ethnically and racially diverse.
They have grown up with greater ethnic and racial diversity. They are both socially and politically liberal. Even though the Boomer generation was responsible for the great social changes of the sixties, they have grown more politically conservative as they have aged, while remaining socially liberal. So many of the differences of perspective between the generations are shaped in inverted social and economic realities. The Boomers transitioned into adult life during a time of national affluence. The Millennials did not. But both generations share greater parity on social issues.
What are Millennial expectations in the workplace?
Millennials by their numbers are redefining the workplace. They want feedback on their contributions. They want greater flexibility in their work schedules and use of technologies to work outside of the office environment. They place high value on continuing education and acquiring marketable skill sets. They perceive their careers as a series of lateral moves, rather than vertical ones through a single company. Their emphasis on work/life balance translates to greater emphasis on social responsibility in the office environment. They have adapted to a bad set of circumstances. Boomers, who shaped the previous workplace environments with more top-down management styles, may feel as if they are conceding to demands. In fact, they are adapting to a new and dynamic evolution of the workplace environment.