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Generational divide

- Meridith Freese is the marketing manager for the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce and the West Des Moines New View Young Professionals coordinator.

Bridging-the-generation-gap-in-the-workplace-1The West Des Moines Chamber held a Food 4 Thought breakfast series event discussing the differences in generations in the workplace.  There was a panel of four accomplished individuals representing each decade. As I sat in the age-diverse audience, I was listening to all the comments and questions and it lit a fire under me to try to explain how I, as a millennial, look at the workplace. 

I understand that some millennials get labeled “entitled”. I do not think this is the correct description for our generation. I believe that millennials just have a different way of doing things then the generations before them. And although I am a millennial, I think it is safe to assume that the generations before us did things a little differently upon entering the work world compared to generations that proceeded them. 

Here are some qualities that I think millennials have that distinguish them from other generations (with exceptions of course):

  • Millennials don’t always take the first answer given to us; we are constantly looking for different ways to get things done faster and more efficiently.
  • We have social media in our back pockets.  We are good at it and can use it to our advantage.
  • We don’t believe people should be treated differently because of their gender.
  • We like flexible schedules and managing our own time.
  • We often like “dressing for success”, but other times we would be just as efficient in jeans, maybe even more so.
  • We are not afraid to move from job to job to find what will make us the most happy as we build our career path.
  • We are pros at the work-life balancing act.

Here are some qualities that I believe older generations might stereotype millennials about (with exceptions of course):

  • We don’t respect people in authority.
  • We are always running late.
  • We are not present, or “in the moment” because we are too attached to our phones.
  • We are lazy because we don’t always have to work 8-5 to get our work done.
  • We can’t handle the big projects because we don’t have enough experience.

These are just some of the examples of stereotypes that I see millennials dealing with. I strongly encourage you to look at your workplace and figure out ways for you and your coworkers of different generations to listen to each other’s opinions. Each generation has much to learn from the others. You can find ways to work together to make your organization successful. And millennials, if you want to break the stereotype of being the entitled generation, use it as motivation to work as hard as you can every day to prove that you are good at what you do and you deserve respect and authority. 

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Facebook: meridith.freese
Twitter: @MertFreese
Email: Meridith@wdmchamber.org
Blog: The-Write-Of-Passage.com

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