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In a multi-generational and diverse workforce, sometimes misunderstandings can occur among the different age groups. Younger employees can receive unfair labels from their older colleagues, who may stereotype the millennial generation as unmotivated, selfish, unfocused and impatient.

These misconceptions are not only harmful to a collaborative work environment, they also do the organization as a whole a disservice. Millennials bring many positive attributes and skills to the table, and their strengths should be valued and encouraged to benefit the entire team.

A 2010 Pew Research Center study interviewed people between the ages of 18 and 29 and found them, as a whole, confident, well-educated, positive, technologically savvy and open to change.

  • Millennials are on their way to becoming the most educated generation in US history.
  • In spite of a challenging economy, 9 in 10 of those surveyed say that they have enough money at the moment or that they will eventually reach their long-term financial goals.
  • Like most age groups, they believe they have a unique and distinct identity (61 percent of survey respondents agreed); what makes them unique is that a large percentage (24 percent) say it’s because of their use of technology.
  • Three-quarters have started a profile on a social networking website, and 1 in 5 have posted a video of themselves online. Most, however, have put privacy boundaries on their social media profiles.
  • Members of the millennial generation respect older generations, with a majority saying their elders are superior when it comes to moral values, respect for others and work ethic.

Millennials, for the most part, have grown up in a world full of possibilities and constant innovation, and their confidence, optimism, creative thinking and willingness to embrace new challenges make them an asset to your team. Instead of becoming exasperated at their way of doing things, take the time to ask questions and try to understand how they approach situations. Learn from them, and share your knowledge and experience with them as well.

Most millennials are too young to have had much work experience, and they value your expertise in the field. Mentor them, challenge them and help them grow as valuable employees.

How have you bridged the gap between the millennial generation and older employees?

Learn more about Employee Development Systems, Inc.’s team building resources.

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