Each Generation Alters the Way We Do Business

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cgpgrey/4897480080/in/photolist-8sLScJ-6UVeGh-8BzU3A-8vBVJ2-59734U-8BzTXU-pLQXMp-C7byGT-8BA6DA-HqsbD-EeLtm5-84ZrqE-8uYX9q-5QBkhz-8BzTm1-8vBWdB-6UZFBx-4evd3y-8sLTP7-6V4SLo-q43p5p-pLPJLY-p7qxB3-4qyYPH-q2LCu-5Exyrn-dBA85J-qxjoVW-6UZP8a-851i8A-8BzfN9-6UZP1X-pT8f2X-8Bx1Zg-VQ6w2B-6V4LRL-6UReHi-avLf5Z-6oxZNs-edHRac-as7hKE-hLZZnJ-a2Ef7R-616Rrh-tg2vD-7g9uAQ-cSbdWw-gQcef-SWDqjf-Xy1wHrThe face of business is changing. This is hardly a new concept. When I joined the work force in the late ‘70’s, suits and ties for men and dresses, hose, and heels for women were an unwritten rule in most white-collar jobs. By the early 90’s the Baby Boomers had effected some changes to the restrictive dress code. It began with Casual Fridays, and ultimate evolved into Business Casual every day. There were industries like banking which were slower to evolve, but eventually, suits and ties became the uniform only for attorneys and upper management. Is the more casual dress code adopted by the Millennials have any different? And is attire the only significant change they’re making?

In our own way, each generation leaves its mark on the business world. With the number of hours the average adult spends working, it would be almost impossible not to. I remember opponents of less restrictive dress codes complaining it would affect the quality of our work because looking less professional would make us act less professional. Really? If you look for images of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, or Mark Zuckerberg, only Gates appears frequently in a suit or sweater and tie. The rest opted for turtlenecks, polo shirts or t-shirts.

Blurring the Generational Lines

The business world isn’t the only part of our lives that’s being affected. In my generation, the parents hung out with their peers just as the kids did. There might be joint family outings, but there was still the unwritten boundary between the generations. I can’t even imagine my parents socializing with my friends. In the world I live in now, it’s become fairly commonplace for adult kids and even grandkids to hang out with their elders and enjoy being treated as equals—because for all intents and purposes, they are. Though Robin Thick’s song “Blurred Lines” carries a heavily sexual overtone, the concept of lines getting blurry in many ways is becoming commonplace.

Not only are the lines blurring between generations, they’ve blurred to the point of non-existence between what is considered acceptable behavior, and what isn’t. I’m still trying to get used to the excessive use of profanity in podcasts and videos by younger business people. Yet sometimes, I find it creeping into my own speech in business meetings when it is clearly not appropriate. I used to find it easy to separate my bar behavior from office behavior. It’s much harder when half the work force doesn’t see a need to make that effort.

Businesses Who Adapt Are Thriving

The youth-oriented and tech savvy businesses like Google, Zappos, and Netflix are adapting their corporate culture and even facilities to embrace the changes necessary for people who were raised with computers, cell phones, instant gratification and short attention spans. The crazy thing is, they seem to have discovered something the Baby Boomers missed. In our day, we worked long hours, often sitting in a cubicle for most of them. We were stressed out (and still are in many cases), unappreciated and disengaged from our employers. According to an article in Lucky Attitude, Millennials are less driven by financial returns, in fact, “half of Millennials would rather have no job than a job they hate”. I can’t even count the number of bitch sessions I had with friends over the years where the main topic of conversation was how much we hated our jobs! Had I only realized then it only made me attract another job I’d hate for similar reasons.

Technology, meant to simplify our lives since the late 80’s did just the opposite. Management realized how much more they could get from an 8 hour day and pushed us to our limits and beyond. Millennials are pushing back. They’re task driven rather than time driven, which makes a lot more sense to me. It always has. I used to tell prospective employers I’d stay with a task until it was done. In corporate-speak, it meant I was willing to work more than 8 hours a day. Today, it means something entirely different. If an employee is especially good with their tools and can get the job done in 4 hours instead of 8, or works better from a home office and is 3 times more productive, isn’t it in the best interests of the employer to allow them some leeway? In the interests of employee retention alone, it’s an invaluable attitude, yet there are still those who insist on “8 hours work for 8 hours pay.” Yet, what they’re really getting is half work and half wasted time and potentially disgruntled employees.

Hate Your Job? Are You Brave Enough to Make Something Yourself?

The numbers may tell us jobs are scarce, but Millennials scoff at the numbers. Entrepreneurship is fast becoming the new job market. The attitude has become one of making your own perfect job instead of what we used to call “working for the man”. They’re setting an example for those of us who did what we were raised to do for far too long. In our own way (with less profanity) many Baby Boomers are following suit. We have different reasons, perhaps, but are finding that creating our own brand and space is preferable to working long hours for someone who simply wants to pad their own retirement. The days when benefits like pension plans, retirement, and vacation pay were acceptable substitutes for appropriate salaries and actual appreciation are falling by the wayside.

That isn’t to say large companies are going away. Like everything else, there will be many who opt for security over making their own way. Not everyone is self-directed, nor should they be. But for those who are; those who want to escape the confines of artificially regulated hours and unfulfilling work, there are options, and the Millennials are leading the pack, at least in numbers. But there’s plenty of room for more self-driven individuals with a product or service to offer, and age-ism isn’t a factor.

The Rise of Portable Business

Since brick-and-mortar offices are an expense many entrepreneurs choose not to incur, many services are being offered virtually. They range from writing services like blog posts, web content, newsletters, and email blasts, to virtual assistance which encompasses just about any administrative function you can imagine. Cloud-based systems like Google docs, Quickbooks, Xero, Freshbooks, and more make it simple to manage all aspects of a business from anywhere in the world. Most of us are connected to our electronics to some degree anyway. In fact, the challenge is in finding time to disconnect!

Are you an entrepreneur whose business is growing? Has wearing all the hats become overwhelming? I’d love to help and can provide assistance in a couple of areas. If you need help with accounting, scheduling, or other administrative tasks, please visit my Virtual Business Consulting Hire Me Page, and schedule a free 20-minute information call. If managing web content, writing newsletters, or other writing tasks have you tearing out your hair, check out my Writing Services Hire Me Page and schedule an appointment to chat.

Do you know you need to delegate something, but aren’t sure where to start? Simply schedule a call and I’ll help you figure it out. Let’s make the world economy better, one entrepreneur at a time.


Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for animals. She believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information.