Imagine the best boss you ever had. Now – think about the worst boss you ever had. What were their approximate ages?
A professor once asked our class this very question. After going around the room, the wide range of answers made it clear that age is not what determines whether you will like your boss. As it turns out, your age does not determine how much your boss will like you either or how good of an employee you will be. Although much literature has been written about the negative characteristics or special needs of millennials, such a view is more perception than reality.
Take millennials, typecast as “the trophy generation” growing up. Research from peer-reviewed Business and Psychology Journal shows that there are little to no differences between different generations in the workplace. For both managers and their employees, this is a win-win situation. Managers can take a deep breath knowing there is no need to come up with specialized retention strategies just for millennials because all employees have the same wants: to produce meaningful work with positive impact, help solve challenges, and work in a good environment.
For millennials, this is also an opportunity to confront the stereotypes that may be frequently held about an older generation of government employees. No matter how long older colleagues in the organization have been working, they are just as interested in doing good work and not just to collect a paycheck. Millennials can take comfort in knowing coworkers want to achieve similar goals. Working with subject matter experts can be very useful. They often have good ideas on how to address work challenges you may be facing today.
Does this mean there are no differences at all between a fresh graduate just starting their first job and someone who is getting ready to plan their retirement party? Of course not, but the differences seen between these two groups in the workplace are much more likely to have to do with their individual upbringing rather than generational category.
How can we put an end to these generational stereotypes? The answer is simple: set a new precedent and stop the trend of stereotyping younger generations as bad workers. Millennials ought to change the story that’s being told about them in order to stop the generation bashing they’ve experienced since entering the workforce. That way, when the teenagers of today, Generation Z, enter the workforce they won’t be fighting the same battle.
This article is written by Sofi Martinez.