The Art of ConnectionPosted on April 13, 2021
Written by Sandra Kamp, WOOSH5 E-coach specialized in coaching young professionals.
Imagine for a moment that you are a young, recently graduated professional. In your final year of study, you transitioned to online classes. Your graduation and ceremony took place remotely, and there was no grand celebration to mark the milestone. To top it off, your first experience of your first post-graduate role and new colleagues was on Teams or Zoom. After finishing your studies, you wanted to show the world what you can do. As one recent graduate told me, “Is this it, after all those accomplishments, grades and certificates?”
This, during a phase of life during which you have a deep need for connection.
A recent article by Jan Verhaegh, international partner at Cushman & Wakefield, calls this the ‘unhappy generation.’ In the worst recession in a century, they are endeavoring to build their career and foster their private lives amid unprecedented uncertainty. Millennials face challenges such as additional screen time, household tasks, care responsibilities, insufficient space to work at home, no opportunity to blow off steam. As one mentioned during a group training last month: “During the day I sit at my kitchen table and when work is done, I move a few yards over to my couch.”
One study revealed that remote working has a larger impact on millennials in terms of connection than it does on older generations. People need to feel like they belong. In addition to autonomy and competency, belonging is one of the three universal psychological basic needs. But right now, a sense of connectedness can be difficult to achieve. Working from home means there are fewer water cooler conversations, and it’s this kind of chance interactions that make us happier and give a sense of belonging.
Belonging comes from people we know and who know us. For millennials, this can be challenging in the current work context. They often do not have a family at home, and – in their first or second working roles – have not yet built trust and respect with colleagues.
The consequences of this lack of connection can lead to a drop in motivation, knowledge and skill building, and other development for millennials. Connection is essential to preventing a drop in engagement and eventually turnover, according to Verhaegh.
What to do if you work with millennials? Help them create structure and connection. As an e-coach, I guide young professionals who follow the ‘Young & Ambitious’ trek through Woosh5 – a development training which helps you learn how to deal with the challenges faced early in your career. With short, daily exercises, personal e-coaching and a monthly one-on-one video coaching session, I support them and help them find their own structure.
In online courses, I often receive the feedback that online collaboration is really valuable, in particular especially sharing experiences in small groups on breakout room on Zoom or Teams.
When you share ideas, experiences and struggles with each other, you start to realize how diverse your colleagues are, and are inspired to deal with situations in different ways. In short, it creates that very sense of belonging which millennials need so urgently right now.
It was so cool to see last week during a training about collaboration and connection how ideas about how to stay connected with colleagues were bounced around. Celebrating successes online with pizza and wine, starting a virtual office garden or taking a walk with a colleague, or even “just picking up the phone and calling”. As we wait for the real cups of coffee and hallway conversations to return, these are great interim alternatives.
Are you interested in strengthening the resilience of your young potentials. Click here to learn more about our program.