The early twentieth century found itself awash in different artistic responses to the myriad of socio-economic changes which characterize modernity. Absurdism and Surrealism were born and raised and flourished in such an atmosphere, feeding off a feeling of alienation and anxiety over the modern world. It was this environment which brought us Luis Bunuel and his “eye-opening” Un Chien Andalou, the works of Salvador Dali, and the literary craziness of Franz Kafka.
The modern workplace was often a source of that anxiety – Kafka’s Gregor Samsa was a salesman before awaking to find himself transformed into a cockroach, after all. That tradition has carried on to this day. Everything from Monty Python to Dilbert serve as absurdist pastiches of and savage satirical commentaries on the anxieties of the modern workplace.
For as funny as Dogbert or John Cleese conducting job interviews in Bangkok might be, however, your employees experiencing workplace anxiety is no laughing matter. Not only is it likely to get in the way of productivity, but it can cause your employees severe emotional distress, which is horrible from a human perspective. We want others to feel as comfortable and happy as possible from a purely empathetic standpoint – and doubly so when their anxiety stands to impact the success of your company.
This state of anxiety is especially prevalent among Millennials. They had a rockier entry into the economy than the past few previous generations, are faced with student debt and skyrocketing prices of healthcare and rent, and as such are more anxious about their job security and financial prospects. With that said, Millennial workers are incredibly innovative and tech-savvy, and represent the future of the economy – a valuable asset for any company to have.
So, what questions do your Millennial workers most commonly face, and how can you go about assuaging them?
- “How Can I Get Ahead with My Boss?”
This is a multi-layered question. On the one hand, the question of how to “get ahead in business” is as old as hierarchical societal structures. Workers are always concerned with how to get a raise, climb the corporate ladder, or otherwise play the office politics game to perfection.
On the other hand, however, this question carries special weight with Millennials, given the anxiety they face over their job security. Often enough, they don’t approach this question simply as a means to “get ahead,” but rather with the fear that if they don’t get the boss to “like them,” it can cost them their job – and the financial security that comes along with it.
- “What If My Boss Is Bullying or Harassing Me?”
Typical workplace pressure is one thing. Bosses on a power trip – or, worse, outright harassing their employees – is quite another. Millennials face these problems just like anyone else, but again, their more perilous employment position makes them even more susceptible to anxiety about this.
- What Can Be Done?
In terms of relating to one’s boss, reassurance is key. Reassuring Millennial workers and making them feel like that have a future within the company can both help assuage this fear and motivate them to become even more dedicated to your company.
If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that this question might abate with time. A 2015 UK survey and a 2017 US survey into worker anxieties both saw the number of respondents with this worry decrease. As Millennials begin to become more integrated into the workplace – and change the workplace to fit their different socio-economic and cultural values – this number will hopefully continue to drop. For now, however, even with the decrease, it remains a prominent worry for many, and one that a good boss will be able to preempt.
In terms of run-of-the-mill bullying, one way in which bosses can cut down on this is simply by employing better communication. What one person perceives to be simply Type-A “motivation” can be seen by another as bullying, which can slow the latter’s output under the weight of continued stress. Proper communication and a healthy corporate climate of cooperation can be of immense help here.
Most modern companies today mandate anti-harassment training to guard against that as best as possible. If you feel that you have been harassed at work, Gov.UK in the UK and the EEOC in the US have valuable resources which can you get the help you need.
You can keep your workplace from becoming a Kafkaesque nightmare for employees by addressing these basic yet essential Millennial employee concerns.