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Better or Different?

I recently read an article about how Millennials (those born between 1982-and 1993) were changing the workplace.  It confirmed what a lot of my clients are telling me:

  • They are refusing to work at places that ban social media;
  • They are choosing flexibility over salary;
  • They are always wired in to their job.

The upside is that the focus is on getting things done rather than how or when things get done.  And many people of every generation are jumping up and down at the reported demise of the 40 hour work week. So they are saying good-bye to the old “9 to 5.”

But take a closer look and you’ll see what I’ve seen for many years: the 40 hour work week has been a thing of the past for a long time. Sure – 40 hours is what employers pay for. But I haven’t worked 40 hours since leg warmers were in fashion and I don’t know anyone else who has either.

And sometimes HOW things get done is as important as getting it accomplished. The process and effort have value and often standards to uphold as well.

Good-bye to the old ‘9 to 5” sounds a lot like saying hello to “24/7.” Is it flexibility or is it always being on call? Before we applaud the impact that another generation wants to claim as an improvement over the past, I’d like to offer a few observations:

If staying connected to family and friends via Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Digg, Tumbler, Google+ and whatever comes along between the time I write this and the end of the week is more important than a job – then how important is career development,  the employer’s goals and objectives, and a client or customer’s needs? An outright ban of anything makes most of us want to figure out how to get around what’s prohibited.  Since there is no ‘private’ when you go online, it seems prudent for employees  to have a good understanding about  what’s at risk when they exercise their freedom of speech online. Employers need to find a way to talk about their concerns and the consequences of a social media profile that presents the employer is a poor light.

I’m not sure who was surveyed, but the Millenials I know want more money AND flexibility.  Flexibility makes everyone look like they have control over their day – and most people have obligations that require some wiggle room.

And about ‘always being wired to the job?’ The intrusion of technology into all aspects of our lives may make us feel more essential at work, more important, and more able to respond to any and all requests with urgency and speed. It also provides a distraction from focus, superficiality to relationships, and a blurring of the already fuzzy line between work and home, public and personal.

Effectively managing time means being able to do organize and prioritize. Those are skills that every generation can relate to. Effective Communication means being able to have conversations with others about shifting priorities, and defining the standards for success. Those are abilities all professionals benefit from.

It may appear to be different than an old work paradigm, and the Millenials ARE the future workforce.

I’m just not sure if it’s all that different or all that much better.

This entry was posted on Monday, January 9th, 2012 at 8:08 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.