Career / Speaking Out / Work Culture

Opinion: Can Millennials and Generation Xers co-exist at work?

. 3 min read . Written by Radhika Oltikar
Opinion: Can Millennials and Generation Xers co-exist at work?

Millennials usually get a bad rap in the media as self-centred, flighty individuals who are always looking for the next quick fix.

As they make up more than 50% of the average workplace, it is worthwhile investigating whether they really deserve this rather unflattering reputation or if, at their core, they’re not very different from the generations before them.

More importantly, since they form the major chunk of any workplace, how can they cohabit harmoniously with their preceding generation, also known as Generation X?

Here are a few ideas.

One of the key differences between Generation Xers and Millennials is that the former value traditional hierarchy at the workplace, while the latter believe in a more ‘flat hierarchy’ wherein there is no one ‘boss’ but everyone views the other as simply a colleague.

Also, Generation Xers believe that you have to put in long hours to gradually inch up the corporate ladder, while millennials feel that quality of work should be the only deciding factor. They get impatient if they feel that they are performing well but their good work is not getting its deserved recognition because of due process.

Workplaces should try and find a balance between both sides

One of the ways to address the above differences is to bring more informality into the workplace so that the Millennials do not feel bossed over or talked down to. At the same time, in order to simultaneously satisfy the Generation Xers’ need for hierarchy, it would be beneficial to team them in pairs with Millennials in a mentor-mentee type of relationship.

This would also help the Millennials gain advantage from the Generation Xers’ long years of experience because even if the former is more hands-on with the latest technology, nothing beats pure, hands-on work experience.

One of the stand-out preferences of Millennials is that they don’t like being tied down to a desk. They like to take advantage of technology in getting their work done. For example, a Generation Xer would prefer following the traditional work schedule of being physically present in the office and dealing face-to-face with co-workers and clients.

A Millennial, on the other hand, would choose to wrap up a whole day’s work in a couple of hours through e-mail and telecommunication. For Millennials, the form is far less important; all they care is about getting the work done.

Employers should thus take advantage of this preference by giving their Millennial employees the leeway to adopt whichever method of work they find most convenient and productive while leaving the more traditional methods of working for their more senior workers.

Millennials and Gen X want different things from their jobs

Gif Credit: GenHq

Job security is another factor of differentiation. The former has been raised on the values of loyalty, deferring to seniority and joining an organisation for the long haul, working their way steadily through the ranks. Millennials, on the other hand, are constantly on the lookout for better opportunities.

It would thus make sense for employers to offer perks like flexible work hours, game rooms at the workplace for unwinding, and even a gym membership so that employees are less tempted to jump ship!

However, at the end of the day, these are just broad categorisations. There is no hard and fast rule that just because a person is either a Generation Xer or a Millennial, he or she is bound to behave a certain way.

Eventually, it does boil down to individual personality. As long as both age-groups respect and try to understand each other, there is no reason why they cannot work in harmony.