The new generation of journalists and other young professionals (part of the Millennial Generation) have different attitudes towards work and life than past ones did, and their bosses need to know what attracts and motivates them.
The Millennial Generation is people born in 1982 and later. With a lot of them graduating college and entering the workforce, they bring their upbringing with them. Molly Epstein is an associate professor of business at Emory University in Atlanta and “describes the working Millennials as employees who see themselves as special, with an expectation of individual attention for the work done in the course of each day” (RTNDA).
Parents may be the cause of this. The so-called “helicopter parents” hovered over their kids, which resulted them to expect close relationships with elders. But their bosses may see this as the Millennials being needy and they may not be receptive to having a mentoring relationship.
Dale Dauten, of The Boston Globe, writes “it's nobody's fault but ours, the boomers. We're the ones who were squealing with delight if the kid drew an egg. We were the ones who said, "Johnny tried, and that's what counts."
For young journalists, the issue of money also comes up. Unfortunately, the starting pay in Broadcast Journalism is often low and they have no choice but to adjust to that or to look at other fields that pay more, like Public Relations.
Young journalists are also criticized for feeling that a degree is all they need. Furthermore, Dave Vincent, who has more than 20 years of news management experience, says he doesn’t “see enough people who really are as curious as I would like” (RTNDA). This is important because passion and curiosity are hard to teach. In the end, Millennials look at journalism as a job. And the bottom line is that the older generation runs the newsrooms and are worried that their “next-in-line’s” are too dependent on others.
There are some things news managers can do in leading the younger generation:
1. Develop a personal relationship with them because once you do that they will be loyal to you.
2. Evaluate them often, and always start with a positive.
3. Stations should set up clear rules by which the Millennials can go by to do daily tasks.
Employers can also try to connect with the Millennial’s parents. Millennials are more reliant on their parents for advice even as adults than previous generations and this gesture can win over a young worker.
These are some of the traits of the Millennial generation, according to NASA:
· Lacks trust in corporations
· Focuses on personal success
· Has a short-term career perspective
· Is quickly bored
· Is team oriented
· Builds community
· Sees no clear boundary between work and life in general
· Is socially responsible
· Will sacrifice economic rewards for work–life balance
· Expects to work anytime, anyplace
“According to a 2006 SHRM report, 75 percent of executives and HR managers said that recent four-year college graduates displayed only “adequate” professionalism and work ethic, creativity and innovation, and critical thinking and problem-solving. Only 25 percent reported an “excellent” display of those traits in recent college graduates” (Job Blog).
But the Millennials have some great qualities, like their proficiency with technology. According to Tim Irwin, a corporate psychologist and author, “They are going to be one of the most creative and productive generations in history. I am predicting great things and smart companies are going to be hiring the best of them,” (Generation Y Blog). (Ironically, young journalists are often surprised to find newsrooms with technology that is worse than their college’s). Companies like NASA are trying to ready themselves for the new generation as baby boomers retire. Also, by being so immersed in technology, Millennials have become oblivious to those around them at any given time. Constantly multitasking while someone else is sitting in the room may seem rude now but once they are in positions of power it probably won’t be.
According to Syndicated Columnist Judith Martin, "Young people care deeply about the norms and practices of their contemporaries". They just don't understand "that the standards of adults affect them" (USA Today).
Some myths about the Millennials are that they have no work ethic and respect for authority, but the Millennials do get work done, they just won’t look to do something else after completing the task unless told so.
For them, respect must be earned but when it is, it is reciprocated intensely. The Millennials also live in the now, so talk of promotions in the future seems hollow to them.
Today’s generation is more focused on white-collar jobs than physical labor, perhaps because their parents pushed them to go to college so much.
The Millennials also tend to not want to do entry-level work. There are two sides to this: it shows they are motivated to do something meaningful but the reality is that people have to pay their dues first to get ahead in the real world. Another thing is that school may not adequately prepare them for that world.
“Suddenly, the tenets of success we've followed since kindergarten don't apply, because getting ahead in the business world often has nothing to do with intelligence or exceeding a set of defined expectations” (NPR). Some of the things Millennials can do is seek out professional relationships, develop a marketable persona, and acquire skills that will be useful in other places.
There are also some disturbing stats regarding Millennials’ mental health. “The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2003, 27.4% of twelfth-graders "felt so sad/hopeless almost every day for the past 2+ weeks that stopped usual activities." And a startling 6.1% had attempted suicide in the past 12 months (with 1/3 of these requiring medical attention for a suicide attempt).”
The Millennials will at some point be executives, news directors, and even top government officials. They have to work together with the current generation in charge to get the experience they will need when it’s their turn to lead.