A call for absorption versus assimilation into the workplace: Making the Case for Millennials

Aja King, Ed.D., LPCC

I am a millennial. I was born June 11, 1983 in Killen, Texas to two loving parents Louis and LaFronza King. Although I am a millennial, I cringe at that term every time its used. To me millennial means: lazy, free-loader, tech industry encapsulated, Pokémon searching, Facebook trolling human beings. Children who were born during the periods of 1977 to 1995 are considered Generation Y. Why you ask? According to the Center for Generational Kinetics, 83.5 million Millennials exist within the U.S. with diverse backgrounds, socio economic statues, educational experience, and exposure to events that have shaped the mindset. Consequently, these issues are brought into the workforce. Because of these various perspectives of time, Millennials bring a unique voice to companies. Therefore, instead of having negative perceptions, it is time to shift the focus of using absorption versus assimilation tactics to welcome Generation Y.

Why Absorption Versus Assimilation

I remember working as an usher at AMC Movie Theater in Birmingham, Alabama. The nostalgia of being able to make popcorn, eat nachos, and see free movies; and of course, having my own money, was exhilarating. I recall my interview with the manager and practically begging for the job because, and I quote, “My mom told me not to come home without a position.”. Ta-Da!!! I was hired. I begin training and learning the magical technique of processing credits cards and squirting the right amount of butter onto the popcorn. In essence, I learned the mechanical way to work. I was assimilated. Assimilation is the process taking in and fully understanding information or ideas. Yet, this is completely different then absorption within a company. It is important for organizations to not get stuck in assimilating employees, but instead, practice absorption. Helping employees become involve, considered, and motivated to share their culture, skills and ideas is the making for real diversity and inclusion.

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