This is the decade where we will finally dare to accept that we’re all human beings at home AND at work. We can’t hang our emotions at the door of the office and work dispassionately throughout the day anymore. The evolving workforce just won’t have it. The Millennials are here, and they will very likely be the majority in the workforce before we see another Near Year’s Eve.
The Millennials grew up in a time connected by technology. They don’t know a world without it. They are very comfortable with a constant stream of information that they consume and use without even thinking about it. They don’t see the need nor want to separate their lives into compartments, like a cafeteria tray where one thing can’t touch another. They want integrated lives where they can feel connected as a whole person and they’re willing to keep trying different things until they find it.
It’s been creeping up on the Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers for years, but many of us just looked the other way. We got our smart phones and learned how to be tech savvy, but what we missed while we were getting wired up, was connecting to ourselves. So many of us life lives with very clear boundaries that we wouldn’t even think of crossing. We go to work no matter what is happening in our lives, and we suck it up because that’s what we saw our parents do. Our personal lives could be crashing down around us, but we’ve learned to bottle that up and keep it out of the workplace, no matter the cost.
This clash of the fragmented and the integrated is turning our world upside down. The truth is, it’s an oil and water situation – they just don’t mix. It’s one of the reasons why we have seen such an increase in discussions around toxic work environments and people coming forward to shine a light on the unsavory behaviors of those who take advantage of others. These conversations are fueled by emotions, not politically correct business jargon, and the Millennials and Gen Z’ers are leading the charge.
They aren’t willing to be in environments that make them uncomfortable and they’re exercising their preference by taking their talents elsewhere. They aren’t willing to sacrifice their own well-being or numb out like the generations before them. They have higher standards for their lives and they’ll soon be holding us accountable to those same standards if they aren’t already. The proverbial students are becoming the teachers at a pace none of us expected and if you don’t pay attention, you may find yourself on the outside looking in.
To the Boomers and X’ers - it’s time to find out who you really are – not the ‘home you’, ‘work you’ etc. The world you’ve known is slipping away and almost gone, so embrace what’s next. This is your chance to be the person you really are in all areas of your life. Will it be uncomfortable? Absolutely. Will it be worth it? You bet it will. Is it necessary? More than you know.
To the Millennials and Z’ers – keep doing what you’re doing. Turn the world upside down and shake out our shared humanity. Hold everyone accountable for kindness and compassion for one another. Don’t stand for anything less than being treated with respect and as a person, not ‘personnel’. When we start the next decade, the ‘working world’ will have been shaped by you and I predict it will be unrecognizable from what we see today. And that’s a good thing. Take chances, be brave and most of all, be you. We all need you.