The nature of work is changing, not employees


Each generation is different from the last in some ways, but loyalty to their work place isn’t necessarily one of them.

In a Globe and Mail article, the topic of how to foster workplace loyalty is addressed through the lens of appealing to millennial workers. The article paints a picture of millennials in the workforce as fickle, jumping from one job to the next instead of sticking with one employer all their lives as their parents and grandparents did.

Regardless of generation, every employee wants variety, flexibility and feedback just as the article suggests. Rather than being a roadmap for dealing with millennials, this piece acts as a guide towards fostering a positive work environment.

While it may be true young workers aren’t staying long at the jobs they get, this isn’t coming from ‘millennial flakiness.’ The way that they approach employment is different from older generations because the nature of work itself has changed.

Employees can only be dependable when their employers are. Millennials have grown up in an era where work isn’t guaranteed. The hypercompetitive environment they’ve had to adapt to has trained them to always be on the lookout for new opportunities. In an unstable modern job market, the guarantee of having a job isn’t there like it used to be.

The ‘flaky millennial employee’ stereotype also comes from demanding better than employers have been willing to give in the past. The fact that we’re now able to challenge how the employer-employee relationship has been approached in the past is a good thing. Having more of an emphasis on mental well-being and work-life balance can only benefit employees of all ages.

Employee loyalty is also subjective; some people may pursue their passion in their work, while others may be more interested in financial security. Who people are as individuals and what profession they’re in factor into whether or not they stay in one workplace or move on.

A recurrent theme across different generations is the older typically criticizing the younger. This is because each generation comes of age in a different context than the previous. It’s not that people change, it’s that the world they adapt to is different. 

Workplaces need to catch up with that philosophy. Treating millennials as a different species isn’t going to solve the problems employers face with todays’ seemingly flaky workforce. Only when the outdated formula of companies keeping employees their entire lives is addressed will workplaces adapt.

— Journal Editorial Board

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