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Cubester® Chat: 5 Ways Millennials Can Adapt to Their Companies

Posted on 10-30-2015
Cubester® Chat: 5 Ways Millennials Can Adapt to Their Companies

Every generation has its own challenges and opportunities in the workforce, but it seems none has been scrutinized, written about and discussed as much as the millennial generation. Just as the boomers and Gen-Xers had their own characteristics, this generation of recent college graduates to those is their early 30s comes with its own attributes and expectations. 

As aging baby boomers retire and millennials step up to take their places, many companies are undergoing drastic changes to their workforces. While we read about companies looking for ways to adapt to millennials, let's put the shoe on the other foot: How should young professionals approach these dynamic workplaces? 

The business world has changed considerably since millennials were born. The Internet is a necessity, not a luxury; smartphones grant continuous access to paperless offices and work/life balance seems harder to achieve with technology's expanding reach. Millennials like me enter the workforce, confident in our abilities to use advanced technology in a flexible work environment. 

While we have the tools do our work, there are other, bigger issues to consider. Here are my top five concerns.

  •  Flexible schedule. While working remotely, either from home or elsewhere isn't new, many companies are still realizing the value of flexible schedules. I've discovered that a flexible work schedule is more often earned rather than given to an employee. As a result, millennials should focus on building trust through quality work and demonstrate the ability to work independently. It's also not all about you; when asking for a flexible work schedule, highlight how this arrangement will benefit the company. If working from home one or more days a week increases your efficiency, stress the productivity gains, then deliver on your promises. 
  • Be visible. Communication varies greatly between generations. The same technology that allows the freedom to work outside the office also enables us to ask questions or hold meetings without ever leaving our cube. While millennials may prefer communicating through texting and email, managers may prefer face-to-face communication. Seeing each other in person is essential to building strong working relationships. Walk down the hall instead of sending that e-mail. Communication around flexible work schedules is also key to making these arrangements work. Checking email frequently and answering urgent items in a timely matter are very important. Managers and team members should view the remote employee as available, even when working outside the office.
  • Strive for a work/life blend. Technology makes work/life balance more difficult to achieve, but instead of looking for the perfect balance, millennials should embrace a work/life blend. Smartphones make potential work interruptions inevitable, but setting and communicating boundaries can make these less frequent. One way of achieving boundaries is to check work email after hours only during busy times or if asked to by the manager. Understand, however, that these boundaries should not be set unilaterally. Millennials and their manager should discuss a plan so both sides have the same understanding. 
  • Get regular feedback. Millennials are accustomed to constant feedback. Social networking and smartphones allow for immediate updates. Yet frequent performance updates may not be the standard for most companies, which only offer feedback on a set schedule. Instead, the millennial may need to initiate informal conversations, but be sure to give the reviewer ample time to prepare. Suggest a quick meeting after a project wraps up and remind the manager a few days before the scheduled meeting. 

  • Recognize internal differences. With such a wide age span, millennials have varying attributes. For example, older millennials may be less likely to share the communication preferences of the younger half of the generation. Conversely, as they learn to manage the extra connectivity to their jobs, older millennials may have more difficulty finding balance between work and their personal life. 

    Adapting to the changing workforce is not the responsibility of companies alone. Millennials should be willing to embrace opportunities created by these adaptations. This generation has unprecedented access to their jobs through ever-advancing technology that can make achieving balance much more difficult. Two-way communication between the company and the young professional is key for a smooth transition. In addition, millennials should be considerate of how they communicate with other team members and ask for feedback. Each new generation forces the need for new adaptations. As today's Generation Z grows up, millennials will be the established group looking to adapt. Learning these skills now is valuable to us as we advance in our careers.

    Rose Moore, CPA, is a Tax senior associate with PKF Texas. Contact her at (713)860-5445 or rmoore@pkftexas.com