A Millennial in the Workplace

By Anastasia Warren, Marketing Manager

I am a Millennial, and I work an 8 to 5 job.

And I’m proud of it. “20 Reasons Why You Should Drop Everything and Travel the World.” “35 Ways You’re Wasting Your Twenties.” “Why I Traveled the World Instead of Getting a Job.” As millennials, it is nearly impossible to go even one day without seeing one of these articles pop-up as we scroll through our multitude of newsfeeds. These articles—they’re entertaining. I read them. You read them. Many of us read them. And many of them are relevant, inspiring—true. I agree with and commend those that are traveling or have traveled at this age. However, I’d like to take a moment to take a look at those of us that haven’t, those of us that aren’t. Yes, we technically can. Yes, most of us would probably like to. But sometimes, there are things to be done that stop you from dropping it all. Whether it’s career goals, a family to help, yourself to take care of—whatever it is, life has obligations and expectations, how and when you choose to follow those is up to you. Because neither way is right, and neither way is wrong. “7 Reasons You Should Quit Everything and Travel the World.” Again, I read these articles. I like these articles. I agree with most of these articles. I am proud of the individuals that are out there traveling the world. I am humbled by their bravery and decisions. I am not saying that all people traveling have dropped everything or aren’t following goals. What I don’t agree with, is those very articles that claim that I’m “wasting away my years” or that “this is the time to do it because all you have is now.” Yes, all you have is now. But when did working a job out of college, doing an internship, or working toward your goals within a relatively smaller geographic region become looked at as such a constraint—such a negative? Living each day to your fullest and with no regrets doesn’t have to mean dropping everything or seeing it all. It can mean living each day with a grateful heart. It can mean living each day with love for your family and friends. With a deep breath in the fresh air. With a smile at a stranger. With an hour or two of doing something you love. With good food and good conversation. With working toward something you are passionate about, something that is bettering the world around you. So no, we don’t know if we’ll be here tomorrow. No, we can’t see to the end of the year. And no, we don’t know which day is going to be our last. But we do know that all we have is now. None of us know what is going to happen. None of us will ever know. And so if you want to go, go. If you’re already there, travel on. But don’t beat yourself up if you’re following a different path. Because we all have our own. Live each day to your fullest, just don’t worry if you aren’t doing “extraordinary” things yet. Sometimes, extraordinary things happen in the most unexpected places. Quit looking at what others are doing and feeling as though your life is somehow inadequate in comparison. Live each day within the life you have created, pour your heart into every second, and I guarantee you won’t regret a day in your life.

Giving back in the workplace

 

Employees today value the ability to give back. 
Having a philanthropic company culture offers benefits for current employees, as well as aids businesses in attracting new ones. According to an article in Inc. Magazine, "giving employees time off to contribute their labor to local causes can also result in meaningful team building and bonding time." 
When recruiting for Gen Y specifically, candidates roughly between 20 and 30 years of age, charitable efforts stand out. A study done by the Intelligence Group suggested that 64 percent of Millennials consider making the world a better place a priority. 
So what can you do?
Consider incorporating a philanthropic program into your business, or simply vow to dedicate a portion of your time to a cause you care about, and encourage employees or co-workers to do the same. This will enhance your business, your employees' work, and it will offer a more rewarding way of living.
The Applied Companies offers it's employees paid time to work at a charity of their choice which leads to a better work environment and more productive, happier employees. 

Courage both ways: Managing up in today’s workplace

By Jim Annis

I have learned over time that the boss is not the number one priority at work every day. Some CEOs create an anxiety-ridden self-centered environment. Others are the "perfect boss." It's important to manage either relationship in a healthy way that develops your career as well as meets your boss's needs. Why? Employees look for three things from their higher-ups: resources, permission, or support. Creating a reciprocal relationship with your boss will allow you to seek those things AND give the boss what they require to be successful.

How do you manage up?

Minimizing - or at least not accentuating - the power gap between you and the boss is important to gain power because "High power makes you deaf and low power gives you laryngitis," as noted in the leadership book "Influence Without Authority" by Allan R. Cohen and David L. Bradford. Reduce your insecurities. When employees and employers are equally engaged, it reduces the reliance on internal process/hierarchy and promotes relationship-building.

When to help the boss

Think about your manager's goals. How can you support those efforts? Do they put off decisions? Ask them what will help facilitate moving forward. Keep your boss productive by helping them stay out of the weeds and say, "I'll take care of that, don't worry!" Then take care of it. Sometimes, you may begin an uncomfortable conversation. All too often, disagreement is associated with insubordination and accompanies a fear of being fired. The employee tendency is to give up too early, which is a career-limiting move. Powerful people act powerfully, and usually they also want powerful direct reports.

Communication for the greater good

Communication takes time, energy and being proactive by asking open-ended questions and exploring with "tell me more." Many leaders are Type A personalities which might not allow them to say, "I need help," or even more important, "I need time off." It may take courage for CEOs to ask because of perceived weakness.

Mental health day or six-month sabbatical?

You have to know when your boss needs one or the other, and feel comfortable telling him or her. It takes preparation. Education – directly from the boss – is critical. If it does not exist, ask your boss to make a job description that not only defines what they do, but how they do it. Then ask them to present it to you and the people to whom he will delegate in case of absence or daily needs.

The upside

When my mom and dad passed away within months of each other, I was very distracted. During a staff meeting when I was clearly struggling, one of my directors suggested, kindly and respectfully, that I might want to take the afternoon off. I wound up taking a month off, but should have taken a year. The company survived just fine. I am grateful they took a risk in telling me because managing up worked.

Once you put these recommendations into action, how do you know your managing up is working? Three clear signs: 1) you are both more like partners than in a hierarchical relationship, 2) your efforts are recognized by your boss, 3) they rely on you more over time at a strategic level.

 

Jim Annis is president/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today's workplace. Celeste Johnson and Tom Miller, Applied's division directors, contributed to this article.

Is your business anti-vacation?

Summer is coming! Hey boss, I bet your company has a great time off policy. Do you have vacation plans? Have you asked your employees if they do? If the answer to these questions is no, then you might be labeled "anti-vacation."

Use it or lose it

We imagine that you promote your wonderful time off policies, but do you reinforce them?

One of the best risk management techniques to reduce paid time off liability is the "use it or lose it" policy. Employees are not allowed to accumulate their time and there is typically a year-long period during which if employees do not use those hours, they lose them and the associated pay. The policy of "use it or lose it" reinforces the company's view of the importance of taking a vacation.

The fear factor

Are your employees afraid to take vacation? How would you know if they were? In 2014, a research survey by the U.S. Travel Association and GfK Market Research revealed that nearly 40 percent of respondents did not plan on using all of their paid time off. The top two reasons were 1) the work awaiting them; 2) they believe that no one else can do what they do at the office, and 3) they don't want to appear replaceable. Leadership may be directly or indirectly guilting and intimidating employees if the communication on the issues is not properly managed. Taking an annual employee survey will help you monitor the fear factor at your business.

Leaders and the vacation culture

It begins with you. Start now. Personally, I am trying to be away from the office frequently because I want to spend more time in the desert. It is healthy for me to be away from the office because the staff learns that the company functions well without me. Frankly, I am not getting any younger and my quality of life will eventually diminish to where I cannot vacation easily. Now is the time. At our monthly staff meetings, I share precious vacation moments to help promote our vacation friendly culture and truly celebrate those memories.

Everybody needs it

For 11 years, I worked at a place that made you feel guilty if you took a vacation. After I left the company, I learned the value of getting away from the office. Vacation helps you come back refreshed and your work is WAY better than before you left. The Applied Companies offers a paid 40 hours to participate in community service and volunteerism in addition to the regular time off.

The bottom line

Not seeing the big picture of taking care of employees will hurt your business. The competitive job market allows "A" employees to seek "pro-vacation" companies. I have great pride in the fact that I have never turned down a vacation request, and the reason for that is a strong proactive preparation of cross-training to ensure absences do not cripple us.

Summer is coming! Now that you have had time to think about it, where will you go?

Jim Annis is president/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today's workplace. Celeste Johnson and Tom Miller, Applied's division directors, contributed to this article.

 

Read the article in the Reno Gazette-Journal here.