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Who’s going to win: Millenials vs Managers vs Headphones

This month’s millennial management question: Why are my millennial employees always wearing headphones at work?

This is a common question we get a lot, both from managers who feel ignored by their earbud-wearing young employees and by millennial professionals who don’t understand why headphones are a problem. Whichever side of the debate you’re on, it’s helpful to step into the shoes (ear canals?) of both perspectives.


Let’s face it, offices can be distracting. Noise — in the form of overheard phone calls, coughing colleagues, ringing cell phones or nearby construction — is a real problem, especially in modern open office layouts. One study from Oxford Economics found that “the ability to focus and work without interruptions” was a top office concern for two-thirds of respondents of all generations. Realize that for a millennial, popping in earbuds serves much the same purpose as you closing your door (if you’re one of the few who still has one).

Some studies indicate music can help workers concentrate, especially on repetitive tasks. Whether you buy the evidence or not, many millennials truly believe that music helps them work better. This is, in fact, the top reason younger workers tell me they wear headphones: because it helps them to be more focused and productive.

Background music is literally the soundtrack of millennials’ lives: In fact, a recent study found that millennials listen to 75 percent more music on a daily basis than boomers. While people of all generations love music, those of us in previous generations didn’t have access to personal headsets until we were much older. (The Sony Walkman wasn’t invented until 1979.)

Okay, so millennials can make a good argument for why they listen to music at work. What if it still bothers you?

As always, it is perfectly okay for you to set boundaries and let your employees know you’d prefer they not wear headphones at certain times; say, when clients are around or when you’re working on a team project with a lot of conversations happening all the time. The important thing is to explain why you want your employee to be earbud-free. For instance, you might say, “When you’re editing a spreadsheet or working on data entry, it’s totally fine to listen to music. But today while we’re working on this sales deck I really need us all to be available to each other.”

It’s also recommended reminding younger professionals that availability is an opportunity. If you are a boss and want to brainstorm with someone on a new marketing idea, who are you going to ask to join — the person who is available and attentive or the one who is lost in her music?

Finally, make sure you aren’t promoting the loner norm by closeting yourself in your own office. If you aren’t walking around and interacting with your team, there’s little incentive for them to take those earbuds out and participate in the ambient office action.


If you are the one craving music at work, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep your music at a volume where you can still hear what’s going on around you, and where others can’t hear your music.
  • Let your manager know when you’re putting on your music and share why: “I really need to concentrate on this spreadsheet, and the earbuds help me tune out distractions. Is there anything I can do for you first?”
  • Devise a signal that your team can use so they’re not shouting at you to get your attention. Maybe they’ll knock on the desk in front of you or wave their arms. Make sure that you look up every now and then to be aware of what’s going on around you; you can have your music on and still be responsive.
  • Watch the lyrics in your music. Yes, everyone in the office is an adult, but there are still some lyrics that might be offensive to some, and you wouldn’t want to lift out your earbuds and have your supervisor hear a slew of obscenities.
  • Only use headphones when you really need to for concentration. A lot of learning happens when you’re just listening to overheard conversations and the buzz around the office. Being on high alert also allows you to know if there’s a situation where you could jump in to help.
  • Remember that even though having earbuds in constantly is normal to your generation, to others it signals that you are not involved or are tuned out — not the message you want to send your supervisor. If you’re always in your own world, it can be hard to build the working relationships that occur naturally just from the small talk as someone walks by.

This article originally published by Lindsey Pollak..


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Saving patterns and habits – Millennials vs Gen X

Millennials, or Generation Y, the generation currently between the ages of 18 and 34, are surely different when you compare them to their predecessors – Generation X. There are more than 200 million Gen Ys in India today. This generation has seen major advances in technology. Millennials live in a fast-changing world, where technology or the products bought today might cease to be relevant six months down the line!  When it comes to financial decisions, each generation has its own set of challenges. Generation X had quite a few advantages that are missing in today’s world, from retirement benefits to job security. The future for Gen X was more secure in terms of financial stability. Generation Y does not have this privilege. Hence, there are lots of differences between the two generations, particularly in respect of the savings patterns. Here are a few differences we see in the investment styles of the two generations.

Credit: Forbes

Credit: Forbes

Generation X (Born 1967-1980)

Gen X mostly believes in fixed returns. They have a set parameter of measuring any financial instrument’s quality – how much will they get at the end or maturity, and is it guaranteed? The most popular financial instruments for them are Pubic Provident Funds, Post Office Instruments, and Bank Fixed Deposits or Recurring Deposits. Generation X had grown up in a totally different environment from that of  Generation Y. This generation has seen not only financial stability, but also family stability. Most of this generation has lived in a joint family system.  Major financial decisions like buying a home or car have  come later in their lives, when most of their responsibilities have been fulfilled, and surplus funds have then been used for such large investments. This generation believes in the power of saving money, and tries to avoid loans and extravagant spending at any cost.

Generation Y (Born 1980-2000)

Known for their independence, impatience, optimism, confidence and social media craziness, this generation has a different set of aspirations from their predecessors. They like an un-tethered lifestyle and have different priorities if you compare them to Generation X. While goals like buying a home, children’s education and retirement planning might have heavy weightage for them too, it is the delay in saving for these goals that defines this generation. They believe in instant gratification of their dreams and don’t want to wait until tomorrow. One of their worst habits when it comes to managing personal finances is buying on credit. Despite knowing the high interest rates applicable on credit cards, Generation Y still loves to shop with them. When it comes to their savings habits, a study done by Visa Asia in 2012 pointed out that Asian Millenials appears to be paying dividends because eight in 10 Millenials save a third (32%) of their monthly income. The propensity to save was highest in Indonesia (96%). Shopping as the key activity 18% that Millenials save for, followed by saving for a home. Saving to travel (13%), for personal grooming (11%) and for retirement (11%) was also important to Millenials, much more so than eating out (0,5%) and entertainment (0,2%). Millenials also think of their family. Of Millenials’ monthly income, they contribute on average 14% to their parents.

Credit: Tech in Asia

Credit: Tech in Asia

As per a study done by LinkedIn on ‘The Affluent Millennial Opportunity’ in 2015, only two in five millennials have brokerage accounts and three in five have not even started saving for retirement. The study also revealed that 86 percent of the affluent millennials consider social media a must-have for both obtaining financial information and financial decision making. Gen Y also has more affinity towards debt-related financial products. As discussed earlier, Generation Y believes in the power of credit and this was confirmed by a LinkedIn survey where 68 percent of the affluent millennials in the study had at least one credit card and 52 percent had a personal loan.

There are only a few things common in the investment patterns of both the generations, and those are understanding the value of having financial advisers for financial decision making with regards to their current assets, and their loyalty towards financial institutions they are working with.

All these details make one point clear – that Generation Y wants to live in the NOW rather than plan for the far away FUTURE, with their focus more on short-term goals. But at the end, it will be really difficult for this generation if they delay in saving money for their life goals like retirement and children’s education till a later stage of their lives.  Living in the present is great, but we must also remember that we will also live tomorrow and for many more days to come!

This post is a modification from the original article from YourStory.
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