Have you ever heard the saying below?
Work smarter, not harder.
Yeah, me too! Do you believe it’s possible? Do you believe that if you do it, you’ll actually be able to get away with it? For example, if I work extremely smart and finish my work at 2:30pm, do I get to leave and beat the after-work crowd at the gym!? In the traditional workplace, the answer is unequivocally NO. But the Millennial generation would resound in argue that tradition is simply getting old.
As your Corporate Millennial Coach, I will enjoy my home right in the middle of the generational ring on this post—right in between Millennials and our more experienced generations in the workplace.
Is it true that Millennials are strangers to hard work? That you can’t get them to lift a finger unless it’s going on an iPhone screen?
I don’t think so. But many non-Millennials have this perception of Gen Y. But Y?
Maybe it’s because the moment the little hand touches the 5 on your analog watch, you see the 20-to-30-somethings running for the door, to hop in their gifted car from mom and dad and speed off. Or maybe it’s because they’re constantly looking for an “easy way out”, versus doing it the “good ol’ hard way,” the way that’s worked just fine for the past 36 years. They just don’t want seem to want to work hard, right!?
It’s not that Millennials don’t want to work hard; it’s that they don’t want to work hardER. They’d rather work smartER.
The reason they’re running for the doors at 5pm is likely because they’ve figured out a way to complete their work in just 6 of the 8 hours, and have been bored out of their minds for the last 2 hours of the day. They’ve worked smartER and are seemingly penalized for it with idle hours of utter boredom.
So what’s the answer—give them more work!? No.
Give them freedom! Freedom could be giving them a problem outside of their normal realm of responsibilities to solve or create an improvement for to later present to another team. Don’t just keep them there like caged animals—engage them. Peek their interest. Challenge them. And think about it, this approach benefits the organization directly.
Freedom could also be allowing them to leave early some days if their work is up to par. It may not sound like it, but this approach also benefits the organization, only indirectly. Countless studies have shown that happy employees are more productive. Nothing makes a Millennial happier than TIME! Millennials seek balance like no generation before. We’re more than willing to put in the hard work when our reward is not only money, but TIME.
Now to my beloved peers—Millennials.
If you’re a millennial, or younger, the saying “work smarter, not harder” probably sounds like the Gospel to you! You’re probably saying “Amen” and waving your hands at your screen as we speak. After all, we are all for sacrificing a little brain comfort now for our heart’s happiness later, right? I’m with it!
However, I want you to note one thing—
The saying says work smartER not hardER. It never said you wouldn’t have to work hard.
Despite what the many participation trophies have taught us to believe over the years, nothing… I mean nothing in life is given. If you want it, you have to go get it. And sometimes going to get it might mean finding meaningful ways to occupy your idle time at work when you’re crushing your deadlines at unprecedented speed. (Note: Facebook is not meaningful, in this instance). It might mean seeking additional avenues through which you can contribute such as leading an employee resource group, building an app for an upcoming conference, or mentoring a new associate. It might mean creating a manual or a sales story on the new and improved method you’ve created to accomplish the 36-year-old task in half the time.
Genuinely seeking to add value not only keeps you occupied but it builds your resume/skill set, strengthens your knowledge of the organization, and adds to the value you bring to the work group. It also shows initiative, which every boss loves.
So, instead of running to the door when your Apple Watch alerts you that it’s 4:59pm, relax, engage on a deeper level, and find a way to contribute that you enjoy. The rewards are endless. I’m not asking you to work hardER; I’m asking you to work smartER and show that you’re not afraid to work without the ER.
Your Trusted Corporate Millennial Coach