If your career began more than 17 years ago, there are things you should do now to prepare for a Millennial work environment. People are starting to retire later than ever and live longer. This means you will be a part of tomorrow’s Millennial workforce.
The Millennial workforce is a smart and diverse bunch. They have more college degrees than any other previous U.S. generation (and college loan debt). They are globally sensitive, diverse and often challenge anything that looks “status quo”. A Millennial workforce is also the quickest to offer tech solutions to problems. And you will not find them wearing suits to work.
Anything that seems constricting, unfair, too expensive to justify, or dictatorial will be ignored or dismissed. Instead, a Millennial work environment will search for a new, better way. They cannot fathom life without the Internet. So, how do you prepare for an environment like this?
Invest time in learning the latest technology
Your Millennial work environment will be filled with younger people who really know the ropes of technology. A modern Millennial workforce does not remember life without the Internet or global connectivity on phones that never leave your side.
Preparing for a Millennial work environment means knowing what they prefer, what’s new, and what they prefer to communicate with. It also means understanding their style of communication.
It is a good idea to keep with the latest technology for both Windows and Apple, and how to use both iPhones and Smartphones. As crazy as it sounds, spend some time a tech store doing your research and don’t be afraid to hit up the kids and relatives for advice.
Update your work wardrobe
Two decades ago, going to a job interview meant making sure you had the proper professional suit or outfit. Wearing suits and ties will always be professional, but in some Millennial work environments, it will be viewed as overdressing or too much. They may even say, “It does not fit with our culture.”
The Millennial workforce wardrobe is centered more towards “business casual”. And business casual clothes must either be a bargain, trendy, functional, and part of the culture of a company.
When meeting in a new Millennial work environment it is a good idea to pay attention to how people are dressing from top to bottom.
Prepare for an active and open work environment
There are varying opinions on whether or not the Millennial workforce disconnects from their phones after work. Some do and some do not.
Regardless, they all work “smarter” than before. If you are in a work environment with Millennials you may receive texts and emails after work hours. And the expectation is that you reply to it. It is a lifestyle, as much as, a job.
In addition, you will not find cubicles separating desks. That is too old school and represents an outdated work culture. You can expect something more that invites open communication. A good example of an active, open work environment is what you find at WeWork locations. Multiple companies rent open space in one co-working space where they can network with each other. It is an active and open environment that the Millennial workforce has used globally.
Don’t beat Millennials over the head with your experience
The strength of being an older worker in a Millennial work environment comes more from having soft skills. Life experience, wisdom, and interpersonal skills go a long way these days. All your knowledge can be found on Google making your book smarts somewhat trivial.
What you cannot teach through Google searches is how to communicate with others, empathy, storytelling, and the wisdom to predict consequences of actions. These are “people skills” that can only be learned through the study of people.
So, Millennials do not need to know that you have 20+ years experience every time you disagree. They want to know how you effectively communicate with other people to get things done that a device cannot. Help the Millennial work environment this way and they will let you into their world, as long as you remember to practice your interpersonal skill of listening to and reading people.
(For more tips on working with millennials, check out 5 Tips To Keep Millennials Engaged In Today's Workplace.)