Restlessness knows no generational bounds.

Posted On December 1, 2015

In the 1996 film Trainspotting, one of the characters deliberately tries to tank a job interview without allowing the interviewers to catch on, in order that he might remain on government assistance. Among his strategies, all of which prove wildly successful, is to describe himself as a perfectionist.

“For me, it’s got to be the best or nothing at all,” he says. “When things get a bit dodgy, I cannot be bothered.”

This quote, minus the ulterior motive and deliberate deception behind it, would seem to be the impression many Baby Boomers have of millennials in the workplace. They have an ideal workplace in mind, and if they don’t get it – if things get “a bit dodgy” – they don’t let the grass grow beneath their feet. They change jobs.

For many Baby Boomers, some of whom may have worked 30 or 40 years for the same company, this seems fickle. Until one recognizes that many other Baby Boomers did it too.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, younger Baby Boomers born in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s held an average of 11.7 jobs between ages 18 to 48. Restlessness, it seems, knows no generational bounds.

All this job-hopping can be a drain for employers, who then have to seek out and train someone else. Retention of skilled employees can be important to the bottom line.

So how to keep those employees happy? Citing a report from Catalyst, a nonprofit that seeks to expand opportunities for women in business, a recent Forbes article noted that and the importance of an inclusive workplace culture.

Many companies have sought to do this by creating open work spaces, banishing cubicles and dividers in favor of communal tables or “hoteling,” where workers don’t have their own assigned space and simply camp out at whatever work station is available.

Such open plans are designed to encourage collaboration and face-to-face communication instead of emails or instant messages, and to eliminate the prairie-dogging of the cubicle farms. But while some employees find the openness creates a more invigorating work environment, others find it distracting and counterproductive. One overly loud talker can turn inclusiveness into annoyance.

Much like business models, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Open work spaces and hoteling may work for some types of companies – likely those that thrive on creativity that can be jump-started through collaboration. For others – let’s say, for example, offices in which employees spend a lot of time on telephones – they may make it more difficult to get anything done.

Listen to your employees. Watch how they work. Inclusiveness doesn’t always mean everyone works at the same table. It just means that employees’ needs are being heard and addressed.

Categories: Generation Y / Millennials, Work, Workplace