Relatable Work-Culture Insights: From the Perspective of a Millennial

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Contributed by Anna Thiele

Anna Thiele is a Deliberate Directions intern. She graduated in May 2021 from Boise State with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and a Certificate in Leadership and Human Resources.

Anna took her first leadership role in 2016 at a TIPPS camp at the College of Western Idaho. A year later, she was promoted to a management position at Albertsons. Her favorite part of her management job is training and coaching, as she believes this is the foundation to success for any organization.

In her spare time you can find her rock climbing, backpacking, and  riding her bike along the Boise River Greenbelt.

This article is based on a qualitative research survey conducted by Intern Anna Thiele, at Deliberate Directions, that yielded over 50 responses with results heavy from the ‘Gen-Z’ group. We opened the survey to anyone that has a job to lend us some insights into their work-culture. We asked three main questions; ‘Does your company treat you differently than how the public perceives you are treated’, ‘Is your boss doing anything that hinders your ability to be more productive’, and ‘What recommendations or feedback do you have for your boss?’.

These answers may seem harsh, but the responses are built from months (or years) of unheard and undervalued feedback. Take this article with a grain of salt and use it as motivation to dig deeper into the pitfalls within your own company. Take initiative and regain integrity for the work you do. For yourself, but also for the genuine hard-working people you hire. Invest time in learning how your employees feel valued and see the results unfold. I want to work as hard as you want me to, and I want to feel valued and respected as I do so.

With this article I hope you take note of where improvements can happen within your own company. I hope that you begin to listen to break-room talk and use it as critical working feedback rather than an attack or as bad employees. Perhaps you have an employee base that is heavy in one area of the generations. I encourage you to take the measures necessary to meet their needs and make their job worth coming to everyday. Not only will this boost your company’s workplace culture but also increase sales, collaboration, longevity, and more.

From the results, we gathered that over 50% of respondents know the values of their company and yet still choose to stay in their job, even if the environment is hostile. It leads me to wonder what makes employees leave or stay and what bosses can do to alleviate that tension and realign to their values and mission statements? If a company lives by their values, what is driving the wedge in creating a positive work culture? How can the boss improve?

Read on to learn more from the employee’s perspective.

1) Perceptions

I thought it would be valuable to hear if Companies generally had a positive name within their community. I thought, if a company has a good reputation in their community, they have the allowance to mistreat their employees because their rehire rate would remain constant. I have this impression because growing up my dad would say, “work at X, it’s a good company”.

“The public thinks I am treated well”

The data shows that 47% of respondents believe that they are treated differently while 53% think the public has a fair interpretation of how they are treated. To better understand this gap, we asked respondents who replied ‘YES’ to expand. The results show that the inconsistency in public perception comes from four main themes, those being assistance/support, treatment, quality of work, and culture.

Assistance/Support

  • They work in a dream job but the expectation from their boss is that they take in the duties from their title PLUS.
  • While the company projects a team image, employees are promised extra training and coaching but never given access to those resources and are also highly discouraged from using their earned time off. While managers use emotionally manipulative tactics.
  • While the company is perceived as relaxed, easy-going, puts customers first, nice place to work, etc, the reality is that there never seems to be enough employees scheduled to get the work done. This leads to extreme frustration and poor morale among employees.

Treatment

  • Treatment doesn’t not align with “Values and Expectations”, instead we are treated as commodities or resources that can be owned, bought, or traded.
  • While it’s projected to be family friendly, it’s hard to find coverage for a shift no one wants. Low chances of my manager helping with that one.
  • The public perceives that my managers must respect my experience and dedication to my work. In reality I am treated like a number, my suggestions for improvement and efficiency are brushed off, and I expected to go along with the bureaucracy.
  • The company said they value innovation and women. Yet I was discriminated against several times, one regarding my maternity leave, and innovation was squashed and nepotism was rampant.
  • Even though it’s a health-oriented company, employee health is not a priority.
  • The public sees a happy-go-lucky barista when reality is my company sees me as expendable or replaceable.
  • The public perceives the company to value their employees like family. Reality is that it doesn’t matter how hard I work, the company doesn’t care if I leave.

Quality of work

  • Even though I am treated far better than expected, I am paid about 10 thousand euros less than the perceived “going rate” for my job.
  • Perception of being a well treated caregiver when in reality management overworks and doesn’t give any pay raises.
  • Seemingly carefree, the reality is that management and corporate make behind the scenes very stressful.
  • They display a family centered business while not valuing their employee’s health.

Culture

  • Known for great benefits and work culture but in reality it is high stress, gossip, no consistency in expectations and a lack of recognition.
  • The boss publicly espouses how wonderful her team is but in the office she is suspicious, controlling, and vindictive.

2) Hindrances

“My boss is disinteresting in training me to be more proficient”

Some jobs are flat out bad. Perhaps they didn’t spend enough time developing their training handbook or the company is a corporation run by money. On the other hand, some companies just don’t have the resources and their workplace culture suffers from that. I asked this question with the hopes of better understanding the dynamics and influence that a boss has on the team. There were four themes that arose from this section; communication, assistance, employees being overworked, and language used that lowered employees morale.

“Employees are treated with zero respect at X. Managers are overworked and underpaid and never given any proper training. Sexual harassment is a huge problem. They specifically move the problem to another location rather than firing or launching a proper investigation. Employees are treated as disposable and a hostile work environment is a huge issue. There is a hotline but it is not actually anonymous”.

Communication

  • Lots of micromanaging and distrust in employees, which leads to unreliable people because they don’t feel like they could ever do well enough because no one treats them like they could.
  • There is a lack of communicated expectations
  • Bosses will commit the branch to jobs and inform no one until the day after the project is supposed to be finished.
  • There is never a cohesive plan
  • Micromanaging
  • I’m told to never question the directions a superior gives me, even though they are frequently wrong, thus causing major issues down the line.
  • Providing incomplete information and selling clients solutions we aren’t physically capable of doing
  • Inconsistent direction and lack of cohesive focus on priorities as well as almost no internal communication
  • They tell me to be places I was not scheduled to be
  • Makes judgement calls that affect me, but makes the call based on no experience
  • Asking me to do things that aren’t productive
  • Doesn’t communicate events happening on certain days
  • No clear boss, I get directions from three different people, and when my productivity is halted due to that I am blamed.
  • Since working from home, manager presence has disappeared except to issue vague threats and post metrics.

Assistance

  • Not hiring enough people
  • After rescheduling training 5 times, I have had to self-teach new processes and systems to keep work going.
  • My boss doesn’t understand customer expectations so they end up creating more obstacles than solutions
  • If they [the boss] doesn’t want to help you, they won’t
  • I’m nervous I am going to do something wrong because my boss intimidates and scares me.
  • My boss stresses about everything else, but puts no priority on what should be done first.
  • Isn’t available or dependable, does not seek to properly train new staff, is lazy, and brings outside stress into the workplace.

Overworked Employees

  • Limited staff
  • Gives me tasks outside of my immediate field of responsibility
  • Prioritizes spending time in “survival mode” vs working on systems that will allow us to operate from a more efficient and smooth space.
  • If I work any faster I’m going to fall and cause an accident
  • Overworks and burns me out
  • Pilling more responsibilities and tasks on me without providing the correct resources to do so
  • Increasing the range of what we do instead of allowing us to be experts in our specialization

Lowering Employee Morale

  • They are extremely toxic and and impatient
  • I reported my boss to HR, the issue got swept under the rug
  • Indirect side comments that hurt my feelings
  • Higher-ups talking down to employees, damaging their confidence which directly affects performance
  • They allow (encourage) dissent between co-workers
  • Higher up management was harsh, when they knew we were doing everything we could

3) Recommendations and Feedback

“I don’t know, I couldn’t do it”

There are four different generations in the workplace today, each carrying their own special quirk. Intergenerational specialist Jeremy Graves, author of Empower. Promote. Launch. [Repeat], has found that it is important, and highly advantageous, to understand each of these generational work styles. For me, and many in my generation, respectful feedback is the key to a successful workplace. It is something that hasn’t always been used correctly but I believe has major benefits when it is given AND received. This is why I have included this as the last section. The themes that arose from this question are; prioritizing your teams’ morale, communication, training, and leading with compassion.

“Recognize you are in a position of leadership and exercise responsibilities and duties appropriately”.

Team Morale

  • Be nicer to your employees and don’t look over them all the time
  • Treat people fairly, keep your attitude up because yours affects your companies. Also, have respect
  • Care more about your team than the workload
  • Please notice how short staffed we are and that is it rare to find coverage
  • Hire full time internal communicators.
  • Hire an additional member of staff for our team to carry out the additional work you desire me to commit to but that isn’t listed in my job description or contract.
  • Hire more people if you want more stuff done
  • Lower your intensity. We want to succeed as much as you do

Communication

  • Communicate better the plans for the day
  • The entire company has plenty of feedback that they have ignored ten times over, if they would listen then they would stop losing employees.
  • Focus on the right question, which will help ME focus on the right solution
  • Please don’t assume I know what I am doing for the day when you haven’t communicated a gameplay.
  • More thorough, in advance, communication
  • Work on not getting so frustrated
  • Stop talking and listen. We need solutions to problems and a path forward to meet our business goals. Not speeches about why things are wrong
  • Consult your employees who know how things actually work before promising impossible things to clients.
  • Be professional and don’t get involved with your employees’ personal lives.
  • Bring your directors to the table and share ideas and listen to feedback without feeling threatened.
  • Run things by me first. You don’t work in my store, you don’t know how customers affect our daily operations.
  • Give more direction for all departments. You have a vision of how you want your store to be run, but your department managers are there to help you achieve that. Direct them better on what you want them to do rather than leaving them lost with a list of things with no priority.

Training/Development

  • The overall amount of projects and tasks leave no time for the day-to-day business.
  • We had different processes and procedures for doing it, but we are not doing it wrong. Take advantage of the perspective and support us.
  • Support me in trying to improve things for the better of everyone instead of just teaching me to be as choked out as you
  • Make time to focus on developing the people you lead, not just in their job duties, but personally.
  • Maybe just that the first training would have been more thorough on work at home policies.

Compassion

  • Have a nicer attitude
  • Be more understandable and considerate of your employees well being and spirit
  • Don’t micromanage me
  • Show more consideration for certain subjects
  • The more you work with your employees, the more they will give back in return

Conclusion

It is important to remember, not every boss is a bad boss. This was shown through some of the respondents’ positive feedback about their boss.

  • Sometimes she avoids confrontation and may pass hard things to someone else. Overall, she is understanding and will work with you if you have a difficulty. She also lets you vent.
  • We are a team and work well together
  • Answers all my questions quickly, patient, and considerate when I have something that comes up
  • Our boss reminds us of the little things to be able to do better and be more proficient.
  • Doesn’t hinder me from being productive in my job.

If you are interested in learning more about how to work together with your team for the better, click here to book a free consultation appointment.

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