Enough About Millennials!
Lets leave these folks alone! Millennials have heard it all – from lazy to entitled to screen-addicted and everything in between! Personally, as a Gen Junkie and cusp’er (read: Gen X, but kind of close to Millennial) – I find our latest generation of folks to have found their place in the workplace and in society! Turns out, they aren’t all bad after all! I know who to turn to when I have a tech support issue; I know who will help me when I need something posted on ‘Insta’; I know who will help me publish this article and give it a social media ‘push’; and I know what the latest weird green smoothie is to order in the Minneapolis Skyway! (hint: those are all the same person) That’s right, my millennial counterparts!
But lets give them a break! They will soon hold the biggest population of US workers in a few short years and many of them have already moved into manager roles and/or started businesses of their own. So what is next? Or better, WHO is next? Enter: Gen Edgers, or Gen Z, or The Homeland Gen or…Whatever else you want to call them – for now. We will see what sticks. (side note: Millennials were originally called ‘Gen Y’ until the term Millennial stuck). Our newest friends are just starting to enter the workforce, and at first blush they show real promise. When high school kids are asking for internships at Lockheed, I can promise you they will rival, like every other generation ever, for title of ‘The Greatest Generation’.
What do we know at this point? Well, being raised by Gen X’ers, we are expecting to see a similar approach to work, to balance, and general approach to life!
Yours truly is expecting ‘walls’ to come back to the work place. Not cube-farms and not traditional corner offices – but a mix of the open collaboration space that Millennials have enjoyed, coupled with offices and flex rooms for privacy. Our new Gen Edge friends like being ‘alone together’ (i.e. working by themselves physically, but wildly connected online; see Google Docs for a nice example of this set up). Like Gen X’ers, I expect Edgers to want to meet and collaborate in a group, but then go away to fulfill the work or carry out the plan on their own, all the while staying connected to their peers and managers.
We have seen a shift over the past 10+ years from Gen X’ers talking about Work/Life balance to Millennials talking about Work/Life blending, but I would trust that Edgers are going to enjoy the former-not-the-latter. Gen X’ers have always liked a line in the sand when it comes to work and home. Not to say that they don’t work past 5pm and they will not check Facebook during the day, but more of dedicated times for things. Work from 8am-5pm, go to the gym from 6pm-7pm, boot back up to check email and work on things from 8-9pm, and 9pm+ is TV time… you get the picture. Millennials can pretty much do that stuff simultaneously – not even in a multitasking way, but more like that approach is built in! All that being said, I feel that Edgers will dedicate 8-5 as a nose to the grindstone focus period, then boot down, ride fat tire bikes until the sun goes down, then boot back up to sort through emails for another hour at night. Or, perhaps that last hour before bed they will take the Millennials approach of TV, Facebook, work email, and Messenger all in one fell swoop! Let’s find out!
Approach to Life
With a name like Gen Edge, you have to be a little ‘edgy’. Extreme sports like their parents were big on? Snowboarding, mountain biking, those weird bat-wing suit things that you wear and go shooting down a mountain over the tree tops?! Ok, 2 out of the 3 at least! Many Millennials lived at home until 30+, where Gen X barely moved back after college – and with employment where it is for new grads today, I would expect them to get into the real estate market relatively quick. Now, if we could see more Tech School AAS degree graduates and an uptick in STEM (or STEAM if you want to put Art in there. I do.) that would be great! We have enough made-up 4 year degrees!
Are these simply predictions? Perhaps. Is it also true that you can use history to predict the future? A lot of times, sure. I am betting on this new generation to be like Gen X 2.0 – the work ethic and dedication of Gen X coupled with the many ‘screens’ and apps of Millennials – we could be cooking with gas here people! I welcome them – and may even start a high-school Internship program in my division! Now, where is my favorite Millennial to help me post this ‘piece’?!?!
(For the record, this piece was published by a full-blown millennial)