28 Jun On Millennials and Working Like a Horse
If you live long enough, you will most likely notice that you’re slowly but surely turning into the stereotypical elderly curmudgeon who looks at youngsters with their newfangled technology and lack of social propriety with growing disdain. This process starts somewhere in your mid-to-late twenties when you look at rowdy, obnoxious teenagers and wonder, “was I ever that stupid?” And it only gets worse the further you’re separated from youth. After enough time, you may even go so far as to utter the phrase “what is this generation coming to?” with a sense of dread instead of irony. And if you’re a Baby Boomer in the workforce, you’re probably already saying similar things to yourself about Millennials in the workplace, what with their “Snap-Face, InstaChat,” and their i-everythings.
A picture taken of a picture of a selfie being taken. That’s like, three levels of Photo Inception.
And you’re in good company. People have been stressing about what the rising youth are doing to society for ages. And that’s not a hyperbole, I literally mean ages. So before you start the long descent that invariably ends with you yelling at a kid to get off your lawn, know that what you’re feeling is common. Different generations will change things, especially in the workplace.
Millennials are changing the workforce.
Don’t panic. Instead, ask yourself: how are Millennials changing the workforce today? They use more technology. They want to work for a cause rather than for the sake of working. They’re less driven by a company’s mission than previous generations. They care more about short-term, achievable goals. But, to be fair, the workforce is already constantly changing. And how someone reacts to such change depends on their experience. Millennials love the shift toward new technology and away from traditional business practices that they see as outdated. Baby Boomers see that shift as the erosion of stability and principles.
Douglas Adams hit it spot on when he observed: “Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.” With the advent of so much new technology completely changing the world we live in, it’s difficult to say how a job in a brand new field should look. But it’s safe to say that it won’t always look like a traditional job.
Change can be hard, but history proves over and over again that it’s necessary for progress to be made. When you think about it, the only thing that remains constant in the universe is change.
Change is inevitable, even in established industries. And knowing how things change can give you the edge over those who refuse to accept it. For instance, knowing that since 2015 Millennials have been the largest single generation in the current workforce can help you understand why the workplace is changing the way it is.
A lot has been said about Millennials in the workplace, for good and for ill. It’s no surprise people are so vocal about it; their opinions are strong and varied. As generational theorists Strauss and Howe learned after coining the term “Millennial,” there’s a huge market for explaining the differences between Millennials and previously established generations. Their research is important to businesses because understanding those differences is key to moving forward smoothly. And Strauss and Howe aren’t the people who are figuring out what those differences actually are.
The Flynn Effect.
Moral Philosopher and Psychologist James Flynn discovered a phenomenon now known as the Flynn Effect: i.e. essentially, humans have been getting smarter and smarter with each successive generation. His information is based on data taken from IQ tests going back to when the tests were invented. He noticed that the average score goes up about three points every decade. Flynn is quick to point out, however, that the increase is easily explained by the technology available to modern humans that wasn’t available to earlier generations.
Don’t laugh. It’ll happen to you.
For example, the top speed of a sports car will vary greatly depending on the conditions of the road. On a backcountry dirt road, it’s not going to go very fast at all. But on a well-maintained, paved surface, on a clear, dry day, that car can reach speeds unimaginable by mankind just one hundred years ago. In this analogy, if our brains are the car, the technology we utilize contributes to the kind of “road” we drive our “mental car” on. Calling the internet the “information superhighway” turned out to be a rather prescient moniker. The brains of Millennials are running on a more smoothly paved “road” than previous generations. The generation coming up after Millennials will be even smarter, and more adept at integrating technology into their lives.
This is your brain on the Dewey Decimal System.
Now, this isn’t to say that Gen-Xers, Baby Boomers, and all previous humans are Luddites who aren’t as mentally capable as youngsters today. Remember, it’s not so much the cars that are changing, it’s the roads. Older generations have worked hard to earn what they have, and they’re proud of that. It’s totally understandable for the current elder generation to pull a John Henry, shoulder their hammer, and think that the old ways are categorically better ways; it’s what they know, and it worked for them. But just because something is well-established doesn’t necessarily mean it’s what is best. There are examples of people opposing all manner of technological advancements when they come out because of the supposed dangers they would bring, from smartphones, to television, radio, and even the printing press.
In a modern setting, with commonplace advanced technology, with Millennials as the largest generation in the workforce, it gets easier to see why things are changing, and why there’s a generational gap in terms of expectations in the workplace. At the same time, we can see how things haven’t changed. Millennials and Gen-Xers aren’t any lazier or more hardworking than any other generation, they just don’t NEED to work as hard as previous generations to accomplish the same tasks; they grew up with smart devices in their hands. They don’t have to walk uphill both ways in the snow to get simple business tasks done, and they do have a calculator in their pocket all the times, despite what their math teachers told them. There’s an app for that.
Technology Changes Everything.
The Industrial Revolution changed the world and how society thinks about being employed. Similarly, the modern Information Revolution is currently changing the world, so it only makes sense that it’s also changing the workforce. This kind of thing has happened plenty of times before.
In the late 19th century, city planners were extremely worried about New York City’s growing population. The most populated city in the United States grew a full 50% from 1 million people in 1880 to 1.5 million in 1890. Why was this such a problem for city planners? Because everything was run by horses. Cabs, buses, and carriages were all drawn by horses. And horses produce manure. City streets were filled with 2.5 millions pounds of horse manure every single day.
The irony of a horse-drawn carriage cleaning horse manure is not lost on us.
A growing population of humans meant there would also be a growing population of horses. Surely the city wouldn’t be able to support so much growth! City Planners posited the city would be overrun with horses and buried in manure if the population continued to rise.
By 1900, (why wasn’t that generation called “Centennials?”) New York City’s population had exploded to nearly 3.5 million. But the dreaded horse manure apocalypse that city planners had predicted for the rising generation never happened. Such a crisis was averted because of a new technology that changed the world: Electric Motors. Millions of horses were gradually replaced by electric railcars, buses, and automobiles, letting the city grow, and eliminating waste. By accepting the new technology and making the difficult shift away from the established “horse industry,” cities around the world were brought into the modern era.
Awardco is using technology to change the world of Employee Recognition.
The industry of Employee Recognition has been around for decades, but most companies are still stuck in the 20th century; they haven’t really utilized technology to its full potential, options are often extremely limited, and product markups can reach 200%. Awardco is changing that paradigm by becoming the Electric Motor of the Employee Recognition industry. Our platform is great for traditional Service Awards, and for more modern Total Rewards programs. By automating awards and redemptions, partnering with Amazon Business, and eliminating markups, Awardco streamlines the process every step of the way. Our goal is to make it easier and less expensive for you to reward your employees for their hard work, and keep them engaged. That’s good for any generation of worker.
So, if you’re tired of the same old proverbial horse crap, try Awardco.