Part I: Boundaries for Millennials

4 years ago  •  By  •  0 Comments

If you haven’t read my earlier post, this four part series covers how to better understand and engage the next generation of talent.

Our first question is this: Do Millennials believe in establishing boundaries, or are they always pushing them away?

According to Professor Martha, they do believe in boundaries. The difference for them is that they are constantly moving. In her article, Digital Cowboys, she states that boundaries and roles are both fluid and permeable. It’s the opposite of the old notion from the old guard that lines are drawn in the sand.

Is this a product of millennials in their youth only? As they mature, will it change for them as it does for the rest of us, when the stakes are higher (and the need for steady income is greater as millennials mature in their 40’s and 50’s)?

Too often, I’ve seen and felt the culture clash between companies and employees when defining boundaries. The most controversial, in my experience, seems to the time-equation. For Gen X and late boomers, it’s how many hours you sit at your desk. For Gen y and Millennials, it’s impatience and the speed at which you are promoted.

And then there is work-place flexibility. Some say they refuse to work on weekends, depending on the industry. The other side of that equation is fear. Fear of selling their soul to the corporate world (be it for- or non-profit or government).

I think the biggest thing we need to ask ourselves is this: how important is it to micromanage this newer generation? We developed the old industrial model of “clocking in and clocking out” before people were salaried, but we never really got rid of the metaphor long after corporate dwellers far exceeded 40 hour weeks. It’s a controlled environment when you arrive to and leave from work every day. We are programmed to drop off kids at daycare as a part of this standard norm. What about breaking the norm?

There are various studies about how productive an employee is within an 8 to 10 hour work day (with some adding more hours at night). Really, if we were to say that you have 4-6 hours of solid productivity in a day, who cares if you are at the office for 14 hours, or when you are in the office? Or if you even go into an office?

Maybe it’s time to rethink what we want out of this next generation and meet in the middle. They need leadership and mentoring from us. We need youthful vigor and fresh ideas from them. Can we find a way to create flexible boundaries, and chart upon a unanimous path to success for everyone involved?

I’m simply suggesting we can, starting with trust and freedom at work.


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