To work with Millennials __Characteristics and values ​​in the workplace

Life Skills
Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Since antient times, understanding beyond generation is big challenge all over the world. Nowadays, our life has been convenient more than past decades. At the same time, out value also has been diversified all over the world. It is great to demonstrate individuals officially, however some people are frustrated in the workplace. It comes from working with young generation, what’s call Millennials. How to handle them in the workplace? This time, I would like to take a look about the characteristics/traits and values ​​of them, issues in the workplace and how to work together with them.


What is Millennials and Gen Z?

Millennials (Generation Y) and Gen Z (Generation Z) refer to current young generation which are categorized in the United States originally. The age is under 40 years old. These days, we have similar tendency in other countries.

Definition of Millennials

Millennials were born especially in the United States between the 1980s and the early 2000s. They grew up under parents who were economically wealthy generation. They tend to maintain the middle- and upper-class family status.

  • Computers and mobile phones are part of life, and the ability to adapt technology is high
  • Love social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
  • High level of education
  • Experience with high success rate (less experience of failure)
  • Never apologize (They don’t know how to apology, they’ve never been scolded)
  • Focus on the present. Optimistic rather than worrying about the future

Factors to maintain work motivation are the value and impact of work, personal growth, and human relationships. They are less interested in “money”, “fame” and “independence”. Just, they are sensitive in emotional situation and counterargument.

Since they have never been scolded by parents and others, when they see the situation, they realize it negatively, like “He/She is scolded = He/She did something wrong. =He/She is incompetence at work and have failed.’’

However, it may different scenario for senior generation. “He/She is scolded = He/She has potential for growth”. Actually, He/She is competent at work and has great reputation.’’ However, Millennials cannot understand above meaning. They just understand based on the scene they just saw. This is one of the problems in the workplace with Millennials.

Also, when Millennials are pointed out one action in the workplace, they have a tendency to overinterpret, like the entire personality has been denied. They also tend not to be able to accept their fault, and run away from the situation. This behaviour turns on anger by senior generation in the workplace.  This is another serious problem in the workplace with Millennials. 

Definition of Gen Z

Gen Z (Generation Z) was born mainly in the United States after the early 2000s. Grew up under parents who experienced the recession caused by Bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. Gen Z has a realistic concept of finance. They tend to have a traditional view of education and careers. They are sensitive to external threats such as the 2008 global financial crisis and international terrorism.

  • Technology-dependent, such as mobile phone and computers. About a half use a computer for more than 3 hours a day.
  • Loves Snapchat and Youtube/TikTok
  • Entrepreneur spirit is stronger than other generations.
  • Future focused and realistic.

Why we have gap with Millennials?

I often hear the phrase, “Current young people are rude and no common sense.” People who were born in the 1970s (Generation X) and the before, lived in a society which still had traditional customs, which were on the way of changing positively after World War Ⅱ, Cold War. Nowadays, privacy protection, human right, gender equality are common. However, these ideal situations were all created and developed by generation X and the before senior generation who were combatting with injustice and unfairness. 

On the other hand, current young people don’t know how tough they were. Millennials think about work as below.

  • A job title in a company is a “role” and is different from the hierarchy of work and social superiority and inferiority.
  • Jobs should be evaluated by ability, not by age
  • The relationship between the company and myself is based on employment contract only. Will not dedicate to the company. No loyalty.
  • It’s natural to change jobs to advance my career.

Millennials think differently than previous generations. These contents deny the life and the value of some previous generation who have dedicated to current society by fighting with unreasonable things or harassment for many years.  It’s natural for X generation to feel frustration, and to say ‘’Current young people are rude and lack of common sense.’’ They didn’t have tools to show themselves like Millennials can do now. So how do we overcome cross-generational gap?

Two value/ethics

There are two different ethics/value in society: “Open values” that assume flat human relationships and “Closed values” that assume hierarchical relationships. It is said that all of us live in those two worlds at the same time.

Open values ​​are anti-violence, spontaneity respect, honesty, friendliness, emphasis on contracts, creativity, improvement of comfort/convenience, and optimism.

Closed values ​​include defeating the enemy, obey compliance, tradition-oriented, following hierarchical relationships, loyalty, vanity, bravery, and honor.

Differences of values/ethics ​​seem to be unacceptable, and it feels like a wall of incomprehension between the two. However, everyone has two value/ethics, regardless of age. It just depends on the situation which value we take. We just focus on the value in workplace.  

How to work together with Millennials?

Understand them

Whether they are Millennials or Gen Z, let’s listen to their talking. If you’re in same workplace,  ask questions like “Why did you join this company?” or “How do you feel about your current job?”

Give Motivation

Tell them why they have to do this task. Millennials and Generation Z don’t follow, like “Don’t complain, do what you were instructed.” Motivation is important for them in the workplace. Of course, background of the situation is changeable in business. Some situation may be sensitive not to be able to explain them. Just keep in mind and try it.

Creating a place where growth can be expected

Millennials are the generation who cannot maintain motivation in the workplace if they don’t see superficial brightness and coolness. Building a foundation of life, humble experiences are key to be great successes. However, for millennials, clear KPIs and career paths make them motivated in a tangible way. In near future, when Gen Z join a company, a different method will be required in the workplace.


  • Millennials are the generation who were born between the 1980s and 2000s in case of US.
  • In order to promote the growth of Millennials, KPI and easy-to-understand guideposts for self-growth are effective in the workplace.

Compared to the 1970s and the senior generation, Millennials are blessed generation physically and economically. Since they have lived without encountering unreasonable treatment and incidents, they are fragile against obstacles and run away from the reality. This means that young generation will never have wonderful experiences which senior generation had in the past.  When Millennials encounter difficulty, they’ll knock your door to consult with you. Until that, let’s be relaxing and interact with them casually.



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