Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers: What's a Business to Do?

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By Katie Torres

Type the word "Millennials" into the Google search engine, and you will find so many opinions that it is impossible to run out of content to read.

And when you look at all the various opinions, it becomes overwhelming and painfully obvious that there is a problem.

And there IS a problem.

Most might say that the problem is with a specific generation. 

But I think this misses the point.

Sure, generations have their own problems. But many of these problems don't just change over night. Many of them cannot be changed at all.

So where do we fix our attention to try and make things better?

Let's instead look at the fact that there is a disconnect between generations - one that causes rifts in personal relationships and in the workplace - and try to address that disconnect.

There are many trends that are happening within the Millennial generation, which are directly affecting businesses.

Millennials are, for the most part, people who pursue experience rather than possessions. This can mean a loss in business for a company who has spent its entire existence selling a material product.

Millennials strive to make a difference in the world; a regular 9-5 job at an office desk does not mean much to them if they are not growing or helping make the world a better place.

Millennials want freedom and flexibility in their work days. They are looking for a change in pace and environment. It is another way they pursue experience.

Now, whether we agree with these desires or not, they are there. This is real. And if businesses do not alter their current practices to serve a generation with these desires, businesses will suffer.

Employers must be willing to fill the disconnect.

Great employers get this right.

They create a working environment where experience is rich and their values are deeply infused in their culture.

Employees are not just employees in these companies. They are people. And they are people who interact with each other every day, working together toward common goals. 

Great employers provide opportunities to grow.

They give out responsibilities, they hold employees accountable, and they provide them with ample opportunities to learn.

This means investing in the education of their employees. These employers will invest in training, in books, in research...in whatever it is that helps their employees keep growing. They do not sit stagnant, watching their employees carry on in business-as-usual, day after day.

Leaders make it a point to include service in their core values.

This not only provides an environment where employees can make a difference in the world; it is also the right thing to do.

It is the right thing to keep growing, keep changing, and do what you can to bridge the gaps between generations.

This can be done without sacrificing the core values of previous generations, but it can be uncomfortable when companies are not accustomed to change.

Embrace the discomfort, recognizing that it is a growing pain. 

Understand that, when done right, this benefits everyone involved, regardless of what generation the individual comes from.

The employer is rewarded with employees who love their jobs, and want to stay around to do their best.

The employee is rewarded with a job they love, and a place where they continue to grow and make an impact. 

This can be a win-win situation.

How will you work to bridge the gap in your own business?