Could the “problem with millennials” be burnout?  Why CEOs and owners should care is a Lesson Found.

In a her 2019 article, Anne Helen Petersen identifies Millennials as the “Burnout Generation” due to the circumstances of their coming of age.  Petersen, a Millennial herself, makes her case in great detail starting with parents who “optimized” their kids’ time in order to “channel” (aka pressure) them to attend top colleges.  Then, just as the Millennials started graduating college, the Great Recession sent the job market into a tailspin.  The result has left Millennials with stifling college loans, less job security, lower incomes and a continuing struggle to keep their heads above water.  Add in the constant demands of social media pressure and smartphones and, according to Petersen, that is how you end up with a generation in burnout.

If you’re like many of the Baby-Boomer or Gen-X employers I’ve talked to, you’re probably thinking “These are only excuses for why Millennials are so flakey and virtually unemployable.”  But we should not be so dismissive.  Rather, we should view this as a Lessons Found on understanding the Millennial’s perspective as well as a lesson on empathy. And, as Simon Sinek so eloquently points out, application of this lesson is not limited to just one generation.  It is true across generations and across all humanity.  Instead of finding faults, Sinek states that leaders should be asking: “How do I get my people to be at their natural best?”

The result is an improved work environment and increased productivity.

These Lessons Found are particularly salient now.  The pandemic has created a stressful work environment like we’ve never seen before.  And the stressors are not uniform for everyone.  Parents balancing work with their children’s remote-learning is the stressor we’re hearing about most often.  Other stressors include feeling isolated or health fears when returning to onsite work.  Finally, there are some who are just plain exhausted and want everything to go back to “normal”.

Even if we cannot relate, we need to show empathy and try to understand how our people are experiencing these stressors.  Management by Wandering Around (MBWA) offers one model on how to accomplish this which can also be modified to fit a remote work environment.  For example, start virtual meetings by inquiring about your team’s circumstances and asking how you can help them to reduce stressful situations.

These Lessons Found require two things seemingly in short supply right now – time and patience.  But making the effort to understand and empathize will yield benefits in both the short- and long-term.

In the next Lessons Found I’ll share some specific ideas other employers implemented to show empathy and alleviate their staffs’ stressors.  Interested in hearing about these sooner?  Connect with me by replying to this email or call 717-439-6254 for a free, no obligation initial consultation.

Life brings us lessons every day.  Sometimes from expected sources.  And sometimes from sources and situations we never would have thought possible.  Either way, they are a gift found. I am fortunate to find these types of lessons regularly and wanted to share them with you with this weekly series of “Business Lessons Found”.
Did you recently receive the gift of a Business Lesson Found that has helped you with management, marketing or another aspect in business? We would love to hear about it. Comment below or send an email to let us know.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay