A first job and a first boss are formative elements for a young person early in their career. At my first job in the association industry, I worked for Molly Grenn at the National Spa and Pool Association. I’d like to thank her, for as my mentor and boss, her guidance ultimately shaped my career trajectory. We should all be thinking critically about how we’re shaping the next generation of leaders. It’s an exciting time to be working in a dynamic workplace with bright, forward-thinking young people.
– Rebecca Achurch
Most Gen Y or the Baby Boomers can describe a low-paying, bottom of the totem pole, unfulfilling job they once had. They’ll talk about how they learned to work hard, and that they’re a lot happier now than they once were. But many younger people are entering the workplace with very different expectations of their first job, or even a first internship. Rather than being told they need to pay their dues, they have been encouraged to challenge themselves to learn and improve quickly. More importantly, they have been told to expect respect, even from their managers. And why shouldn’t they? Wouldn’t we all be much happier and more productive employees if we felt wanted, respected and valued at work?
Many people write off these expectations from millennials as “entitlement”. Respecting someone’s experiences, even if limited, their effort, their time, and their contributions to even the biggest of teams shouldn’t be a big ask. This exchange of respect between managers and juniors should be equal, co-directional, and it should be desired. Respect and appreciation in the workplace results in higher productivity, greater retention, and generally, a most pleasant place to work. The expectations of younger generations are changing the way companies attract, hire and retain employees, and it’s for the better.
Respect in the Workplace
Managers must treat their juniors with respect and compassion, because life happens to all of us, and we all had a first job. Remember when a wise family member once told you to judge a person on how they treat their inferiors, not their equals? This is that time. We must treat junior members of the workplace with the same respect we were taught to hold for all people. Their lack of experience or knowledge about the inner workings of your company or industry doesn’t mean they aren’t eager to learn, excited to improve, and just humans that deserve respect. We often think of employees as investments, and they are, but being genuine in our respect and compassion is important too. Beyond investing in them and creating a workplace of respect because it pays to do so, we should all want to do so as a more respectful workplace is more enjoyable for everyone. Plus, respected employees contribute to the organization in some pretty cool ways.
Employees feel engaged when their company acknowledges their passions or areas of interests and connects them to the work the organization is doing. Much of this stems from the employee during the interview process but connecting with a new employee to acknowledge you both listened during the interview process and care about the employee feeling engaged will be a catalyst for greater productivity. Providing resources that empower employees to develop professionally, succeed in their role, and position them to be successful when seeking the next promotion. Lastly, more companies are providing perks that help employees feel appreciated and rewarded for their work and dedication. From options to work remote, a greater number of vacation days, healthy snacks and discounted gym memberships all contribute to their well-being and engagement. It’s ultimately a smart business investment for a company, as happier, healthier, engaged employees result in more productivity and higher retention.
Creating Intentional First Experiences
Creating intentionality and structure for first-time employees or interns can results in greater integration of new hires into the workplace, higher retention, and ultimately, a position within your industry that working for you or with you will be a positive experience. When thinking about your own company, what are you doing to engage your millennial workforce? Early jobs are important in cementing young people’s interest in a career path or an industry, but also their commitment to work in general. Fostering the next generation of leaders should always be an important part of an organization’s long-term plan to lead their industry to a bigger and brighter future.
Cross-generational workforce integration can be challenging, especially in a remote environment. If you’re transitioning, managing, or integrating remote workforces with young team members, Achurch Consulting is here to support you.