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Simplify the Most Complex Generation

A simple Google search of the characteristics of the Millennial workforce categorizes the sector as lazy, entitled, selfish and unwilling to remain in a job for too long. Experts from the $150 billion global HR Consulting market have convinced organizations that they must create cultures which promote inclusivity and recognition solely to promote a sense of purpose for their Millennial workers. However, I can’t think of anyone, regardless of their age or their generation, who wouldn’t want to work in an environment where good behavior is recognized, they can develop as a professional and their work gives them a sense of purpose.

The Baby Boomer workforce of approximately 25% coexisting with the 35% Millennial workforce has created a great sense of age disparity. Combine this age gap with the fact that most management positions are Boomers and oversee millennials, throw in a heavy dose of digital disruption which has changed current business practices, and you have a recipe for chaos and cross-generational confusion in the workplace.

There is no doubt this confusion has led to some remarkable changes in management styles and business practices. Charles Darwin stated, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change.” However, millennials are human, same as all previous generations in the workforce before them, and their fundamental needs are not really different. I rely on the famous psychologist, Abraham Maslow, and his theory of human motivation. It suggests a Hierarchy of Needs beginning with the basic physiological needs and working toward self-actualization. Engaged employees should be your company cultural goal and here is the path forward no matter your age, gender, religion or role that follows a similar Hierarchy of Needs:

1. Basics

  • Fair pay based on skill set/completed work within a safe work environment

  • Proper onboarding experience to:

  • get an employee excited excited about his/her position and joining the team

  • understand the expectations of a successful person in their role

  • provide proper tools and training required for success

2. Backing

  • Build healthy work relationships with colleagues and direct supervisor

  • Gain the respect of colleagues and management through recognition and vicarious reinforcement (will differ for introverts vs extroverts)

  • Continuous skills-based training to excel in current position and create value for the company

2. Belonging

  • Feeling aligned with and in support of the mission of the organization

  • The ability to advance within the organization through promotion, salary increase, new title, and/or new roles and responsibilities

  • Feels their work is valued by clients, colleagues and managers

2. Becoming

  • Empowered with the trust to work autonomously

  • Develop a sense of purpose and meaning in which the employee feels in control of their career and future

  • Known as a subject matter expertise who shares knowledge with others

  • Continuous growth and developmental opportunities

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs reminds us that an employee’s needs that are lower down on the pyramid must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up. Forbes suggests that 72% of U.S. based workers do not possess a sense of purpose in their roles at work. Why is that? Well, it’s hard work to create an environment where employees have a sense of purpose. Furthermore, most managers spend too much time on the physiological and safety needs of their employees.

Our Leadership Development training helps organizations create the processes and structure to unleash hidden talent, motivate your team, and realize your company’s full potential. Contact us to learn more about the 4Bs of Engagement and how it can help your organization.

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