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Millennials in the Workplace: #Winning or Epic Fail?

This month, the Detroit chapter of TogetherDigital (formerly known as Women in Digital) hosted an event centered on presence. We learned about Amanda Farley, Partner and Accounts Director of SSDM, a local digital marketing agency. What struck me the most about Amanda’s experience is the positive impact she's been able to make on those around her – particularly on young professionals just entering the workplace.

As a millennial who manages millennials, Amanda hasn’t exactly had a clear path to follow. After graduating with a degree in Public Relations, she stumbled upon a digital marketing agency that was just getting off the ground. She came on board and quickly initiated the company’s internship program, providing real-world experience beyond the classroom. That was almost ten years ago.

Now, millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Yet 68% of organizations find it difficult to manage the group*. Is it because millennials live up to the stereotype of being lazy and entitled, proving our own notoriety as the “me” generation? Or are we fighting against preconceived notions that aren’t actually holding true in the workplace?

The generation can catch a bad rap for questioning traditional corporate ideals, like logging long hours behind a desk or racking up decades of tenure at one company.** But the reality is, these ideals don’t line up for most these days. With this in mind, the tips below are not just for millennials or for those who work with millennials. They’re universal best practices that are becoming increasingly relevant as workplace culture continues to evolve across industries and generations.

  1. Avoid Polarized Thinking It can be easy to interpret shared office space as either instant friendship or a reason to close off, creating too much distance between ourselves and our colleagues. Your cubemate doesn’t need to be your best friend or your worst enemy, regardless if you share a birth year or if she could be your kid.

  2. Show Up Whole Heartedly Presence is powerful, but it’s impossible to show up as our best selves all the time. We all struggle with burnout. Remind yourself to be authentic, and take breaks and zoom out, so you can better acknowledge when it’s time to reset and recharge.

  3. Shift Your Perspective Sometimes there is no right or wrong, just different perspectives. Remember to consider other people's viewpoints. There’s a reason we all know the saying “two heads are better than one.” The ability to find value in diverse experiences is crucial.

Stereotypes in the workplace are something we all experience and are likely guilty of, in some form. But if we can approach people and projects with an open mind, we create the opportunity for things to unfold differently than we may have originally thought.

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