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How the Millennial Generation Will Change the Workplace

The prospects for economic prosperity for this generation are not particularly encouraging, and yet has high and positive expectations. Read More

Millenial times

This is something I talked about in a previous Psychology Today post. It was about why men are not attending college like before, and what can universities do to make the pitch to young men. I just think that young people are adapting, especially us men. And I think this study justifies my theory. But this is not a matter of finding college uninteresting, but a matter of being prepared and adaptable to our savy tech world.

But that's not to say that college is going to be a last priority for us men. Getting an education will always be a natural occurence as long as the opportunity comes along. However, this is just the times we are living in. Is a good thing and a bad thing. The concern I have is having this big belief belief that responibility is now a social cause as well. The danger becomes reality when you make careless and senseless decisions all for a social purpose. You must think about the people and the company before risking any subtle changes in your platform. You don't want to be irresponsible. That's not how leaders are made.

But having said that, with an eclectic mindset and an individualistic grit like ours, I am hopeful. Hopeful that adaptation works out in the end. To see the change you want you must be the change we need. And everything will fall in place, individually and socially.

Typo in title?

Hi Ray,

I think you mean workplace not "worplace" in your post's title, right?


Clifford Lazarus (fellow PT blogger)

Typo in title

Thanks for that. Bad proofreading!

I believe that Millennial

I believe that Millennial Generation is a generation that is open to new views on how life is and are open to step out of societies norm. As William states, "...Millennial's are more liberal than other generations on gay marriage, marijuana use, and immigration...". Typically, when one is open to new views on life, it is easier to step out and think out of societies normal standards. The Millennials are overall a welcoming generation. We can obviously conclude that they like the liberal side of almost every situation. Whether its gay rights or marijuana use, Millennials are open to all conversational topics.

The real world

Your article finishes on this note:
".....businesses and governments will need to pay a lot more attention to structuring the workplace and social policy to better adapt to the realities of the next generation."

I very much doubt that the subjective realities of this next generation (millenials) should be/must be a driver of workplace structuring. Unlike the more open, broader citizen communities, where regulation of behaviourial excess might be contested, the workplace is a particular, bounded social setting with a clear overarching purpose, which is to achieve an acceptable return on the capital provided to it by its shareholders. As many erstwhile social reformers and centralist governments have discovered to their enormous cost, the workplace does not and cannot exist if this purpose is replaced or compromised by a need to meet such spurious social needs as "....the realities of the next generation."

In the not-to-distant past, the 'workplace' has been required to have as its overarching aim, full employment or maximum emloyment. One bizzare result of this when Poland's coal industry was owned and operated by its communist government, was that a significant number of those coal mines consumed more energy in getting the coal out of the ground than was actual contained in the coal!

There are many similar lessons from China, the USSR and India to warn us about messing with the purpose of the workplace.

Does this mean that the workplaces can be indifferent with respect to the emotional life of the people employed in them? No, but the answer is not to respond to the latest subjective observation about how employees 'might' think or 'might' be motivated - indeed the conceptual swamp created by the churning of trendy and whacky ideas, is too big already.

Getting to a clear and shared understanding of what might be the 'natural' fundamentals of what 'work' is, and what it means to human beings will, I suggest, lead to a more productive (and therapeutic) view about the 'legitimate psychological needs for work' that can be reasonably assumed for healthy people (i.e. no disabling extrems of temperament). As night follows day, this set of ideas leads to the development of principles of workplace design - noting that getting the workplace conditions right to support human 'work' and for employees to give of their full potential, are conditions which lead to high productivity, something which is also of real interest to shareholders.

So, 'legitimate psychological needs for work' can be satisfied. I would suggest that whimsical psychological needs related to work, cannot be satisfied. By any reasonable assessment, the psychological needs of the millennials as characterised by the various sources quoted in your article are 'whimsical'at least. They may prove to be much worse. What is celar to me is that such an orientation to work and the workplace will not attract investment.

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Ray Williams is the author of Breaking Bad Habits and The Leadership Edge.


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