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Debunking The Workplace Generation Gap Myth Once And For All

We don’t need to “figure out” millennials. New research shows that we’re all basically the same when it comes to what we want out of work.

Debunking The Workplace Generation Gap Myth Once And For All
[Photo: Flickr user Gareth Williams]

The millennial worker roams wild, roving through your cubicle jungle searching for the hottest office perk, easily distracted by a brand worthy of their clicks, and leaning in so far that their necks have evolved to hover over screens and keyboards.

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When the business world talks about millennials, it sounds like they’re describing another species and not just . . . younger humans. But we’re not so different after all, and from commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group, Inc. backs it up.

Surveying more than 5,500 office workers across a variety of industries, the researchers found what we already know but apparently have forgotten: All employees want the basics, like freedom of choice, satisfying collaboration, and transparency.

Millennial stereotypes tell us that we’re pack animals, like the cast of Mean Girls grew up to land in desk jobs. But the research reports that millennials spend slightly more time on individual, focused work than their older colleagues. Fifty-one percent of millennials preferred informal, collaborative work, compared with 49% of boomers and 42% of gen-Xers. Independent work is valued by 86% of millennials, and 91% of the rest agree.


The only area where millennials differed significantly from their colleagues was in the two most contested, groaned-about areas of work: formal meetings and email. They preferred more of both, and less forced fun on company-sponsored social media–the opposite of what the older set wanted at work.

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If you’re designing your office to look and feel like a grown-up version of a Chuck E. Cheese, and treating younger employees like cheap labor paid in ball-pit time and pizza, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when they get bored–millennials have a turnover rate twice as high as other generations.

“They hear all your tips and advice and explanations for why they’re so different, and they don’t think highly of it,” Jason Feifer recently wrote for Fast Company. “Because it’s almost all wrong.”

[h/t: Associations Now]

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About the author

Freelance tech, science and culture writer. Find Sam on the Internet: @samleecole.

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