Welcome to the Workplace: 3 Tips to Overcome Generational Gaps

In school, we become so accustomed to mainly interacting with our peers on any given project or assignment. The professor simply tells us what to do and returns reviews. However, as I’ve described inĀ Transitioning to Adulthood, one of the most significant culture shocks I’ve personally experienced has been the transition to interacting with folks older than me on a regular basis.

While this is a universal shift a part of growing up, this may come as a challenge for some millennials, considering significant cultural and generational discrepancies.

Millennials are becoming less familiar with older generations due to social media usage trends.

It’s no secret: social media has completely revolutionized the way that we interact with each other and the world around us. Despite having the world at our fingertips, our scope has narrowed to our niche communities. More often than not, your newsfeed on any platform is inundated with people sharing your demographics and interests.

Consequently, we sometimes have to go out of our way to find older influencers we can look up to as role models. Our lack of understanding about other generations thereby is highlighted in the workplace, oftentimes manifested in miscommunications– one thing you never want to have with your boss.

Tip: Make a little more effort to incorporate visions of what you want your future self to be in your daily life. This could mean finding an older media influencer you admire, dedicating time to read a book that inspires you to achieve (Defining Decade is a favorite), or simply daydreaming about what life you’d like to live when you’re 30. More often than not, we get caught up in what we want our lives to look like now, without planning on how to actually accomplish those dreams. Savor the present, but remember to look ahead in a way that inspires you.

DSC_0282Millennials are demanding workplace changes that aren’t coming fast enough.

Don’t get me wrong– I’m on Team Millennial. It’s about time that flexibility, transparency, purpose, and work-life balance were more integrated the workplace.

I had an interview with one of the top international public relations agencies and was asked, “Are you ready to give up your time with friends and family?” No, thank you! What are we living for– just another dollar so that maybe when I’m retired I can spend time with people I love? Philosophical crisis aside, the overdue changes to workplace flow are tricky to institutionalize, and it may come as a challenge for companies to restructure their operations before their young employees take off to a competitor.

While Millennials are rightfully impatient with some of the current functions of many companies, these feelings are expeditated by social media. People use social media to “flex,” or show off the highlights of their lives. Now that people can make careers off this, such as getting paid to travel the world and post it on Instagram, this can cause deep-seeded feelings of jealousy, inadequacy, and disappointment for those sitting in cubicles. While this is more of a mental wellness issue in regards to social media, we have to consider how it’s affecting young employees in their desires for workplace changes.

Tip: Find ways to make your workplace work for you– without a structural overhaul. Develop relationships with your co-workers and supervisors to where you can feel comfortable coming to them and discussing changes that may help your productivity. Hopefully, they’re understanding enough of millennial workplace trends to consider any flexibility, transparency or support you may need.

Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are relatively impatient with these workplace changes

While millennials are coming in ready to shake the ground, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers have been accustomed to the way things have been their entire lives. No wonder so many feel annoyed at the notion of millennials requesting special changes– they’ve worked in these circumstances for decades, why can’t the kids just buckle down?

As much as older generations may have been conditioned to these structures, modern time is calling for big changes as fast as technology is advancing. Millennials, on the other hand, are used to systematic updates to make life more efficient on a regular basis (I remember doing computer software updates when I was 10 years old). We’re open to change and tend to be equally impatient when others may not be as eager. Perhaps– is our heightened sense of urgency also induced by our accustom to lightning-fast internet speeds?

At the core, generations in the workplace seem to be impatient with each other overall. This may not be expressed in your personal workplace relationships, but a google search will quickly pull up voiced frustrations on either side.

Tip: It may seem obvious, but both generations need to recognize where the other is coming from, and thus learn how to be gentle and patient with one another. We’re going through major cultural shifts together, experiencing them from unique perspectives, and thus we each deserve to take them slowly together. No matter what position you have at a company, we all still have a lot to learn. That’s just life for you.