Generational bias in the workplace—how to manage young creatives who have never worked in person

Recognizing and understanding our biases is not easy to do. Some people will go their entire lives without working on this professionally and personally. As employers we have to do better. It’s our responsibility to create space for people to decide if they want to do the work and provide time and resources to help facilitate those conversations.

Hit Pause

When a young employee is consistently five minutes late or unresponsive on email, we might assume they don’t know what they are doing. This is the time to hit pause and ask if we are giving them the benefit of the doubt or even having enough information to make an intelligent judgment.

Such situations warrant a conversation to understand the cause of such behavior and, if needed, a coaching session to support their approach while guiding them to adopt a more professional way of communicating and contributing. 

Be transparent

As an industry, we have typically waited for major controversies to blow up in our faces before addressing problematic issues. It was the disruption of the MeToo movement, for example, that led us to address and encourage pay equity. Today we are able to solve the pay problem by simply having transparency in terms of compensation. During performance reviews, employees should be told what their projected compensation will be should they receive a promotion and what steps they need to take in order to get there.

That kind of transparency allows creatives to focus on the work, with the confidence that their employers are advocates for them and have their back. And they don’t have to be worried about their own value and worth.

Although the CoMotion conference was focused on students from motion graphics, the issues discussed were relevant to the entire creative community. Looking at the diversity around the room was the best call to action about why we need to take these issues seriously.

There’s a lot of foundational work that must be done to create a high-functioning team. That is our responsibility. Understanding bias is part of that. We have to facilitate conversations to allow our employees to understand and build relationships with each other.

And if we are not sure how to recognize personal or institutional biases that might be holding us back, it’s time to bring in professionals who can help. If we don’t implement solutions now, top talent will go somewhere else.