Working for Generation X: A Guide for the Millennials

Did you all get the chance to read Simon’s recent blog “Managing your Millennials: A user’s guide”? Neither Simon, nor I will ever disclose how much of that was based on our own experience – me as a Millennial and Simon as my colleague. However as Simon has so politely taken the opportunity to share some Millennial managerial advice with you all, I thought I would take the opportunity to provide some advice to the many Millennials out there, who, like me, work directly for the “Generation X Manager”.

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What is Generation X?

Generation X covers the population born roughly between 1965 and 1984. Often termed as the ‘MTV Generation’, they were the first generation to grow up with music videos and computers, the first generation to shift from the manufacturing economy to the service economy. Although us Millennials often see ourselves as adaptable to new technologies, Generation X are often not far behind. They have afterall seen a far greater change to society then we have.

How do the personalities of Generation X affect you?

Wandering down the common career path, many Gen Xers currently find themselves in the junior partner/senior associate/middle-management tier of the office environment. This means many of them will be directly responsible for the management of the current Millennials starting out their careers. They will be the ones the Millennials report to, learn from and who will be most influential on their day to day work. For that reason it is important for Millennials to find a way to adapt to their working patterns and to discover the ways to work for them most effectively.

What do Generation X appreciate?

Generation Xers grew up in a time where a lot of mothers were joining workforces and working long hours. As a result many are seen as being independent, resourceful and self-sufficient. They like these qualities to be shown in their junior staff. If you are given a task to do, they much prefer you going away and having a think about it, as opposed to interrupting them with regular questions. Even if you are completely wrong, a Generation Xer will appreciate the fact you have given it a go yourself. Do not be hesitant in voicing your opinion on matters (it is the natural Millennial thing to do!). It shows your manager that you have considered matters and applied some thought to them. You will often stir something in their minds and they appreciate an alternative point of view. Don’t take their scepticism to heart, Gen Xers were brought up independently and many have learnt to question everything. This will only help your progression.

Millennial & Generation 'X': Trust is a two way street
      Millennial & Generation ‘X’: Trust is a two way street


As a general rule Generation X value freedom and responsibility and they like to offer the same to their junior staff. However you need to earn their trust first. This can often take time. If your GenX manager wants you to check all of your emails before they are sent out, and to cc them into everything, then you would be wise to do this. This will not be forever. It is simply your GenX manager finding ways to build up trust in you.

Simon made reference in his blog to have a “trusted relationship” with your Millennials. This is, as he said, a two way street. As your manager builds up trust in you and affords you more responsibilities, they will not get the best out of you unless you trust them. This you can do by asking them questions and understanding why they have made the decisions they have. It is important to listen to what they have to say and react, they were afterall in your position not all that long ago. Gen Xers are results driven and appreciate seeing results coming from their efforts.


A lot of people refer to the Gen X generation as being the ‘latch-key’ kids due to the fact they grew up at a time when both parents would work long hours and at a time when it was not so easy for parents to keep a track of their activities. This, some believe, has led Gen Xers to be sceptical and, managerially, they are believed to adopt a hands off, low face time approach. Despite this somewhat critical perception of them, a recent study has shown that the majority of people see the Gen Xers as being the best managers.

In my experience Gen Xers like to create a fun working environment and adopt a work hard, play hard philosophy. When you first begin in a department Gen Xers will appreciate the efforts you make to integrate into the team. This runs true in both the social and working environment. Gen Xers appreciate enthusiasm and an eagerness to please. Volunteer yourself for work and projects and don’t grimace when being designated tasks. Avoid shirking away from any tricky tasks. Remember Gen Xers will appreciate the intent and the effort as much as the final result.

As long as you are willing to put in as much alarm-clockand emoji_set_124 as your Gen Xer, you’ll spend more time 325-party-popper with them than being left in the nature-2  house-building .

Andrew Wallace
Solicitor (and Millennial) – Employment Law 

Couple use crowd funding to challenge unfair factoring fees

A case is due to be heard in the Lands Tribunal for Scotland on the 18th, 19th and 20th of August to consider the legality of a factoring company’s current business practices and charges. The Lands Tribunal for Scotland has statutory powers to deal with various types of dispute involving land or property and works in much the same way as an ordinary civil court

At present, developers commonly sell off the communal areas of new developments to factoring companies and insert clauses into the owners’ title deeds requiring that they pay these companies an annual fee in respect of maintaining these areas. It is notoriously difficult to both object to these charges or have these factors removed from office. This is a common source of dissatisfaction amongst the residents of such developments.

The current case arises from a seven-year long dispute between residents of a development in Clackmannanshire and the Greenbelt Group. Greenbelt Group is Britain’s largest land maintenance firm responsible for the communal grounds at more than 550 new-build estates and as such several bodies, such as the Office of Fair Trading, have welcomed this test case in order to bring clarity to this area of the law.

The residents are challenging Greenbelt Group on 3 grounds namely:

  • That the current business practice of Greenbelt Group creates a monopoly scenario in the title deeds prohibited under Section 3 of the Title Conditions of (Scotland) Act 2003;
  • That Greenbelt Group are abusing the dominance of their position contrary to the Competition Act 1998; and,
  • That the title deed conditions themselves are unenforceable due to their manifestly unfair nature as stipulated within the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999.

Should the residents be successful in their court action, there is likely to be a large increase in the number of people across the country that refuse to pay similar factoring fees. Blackadders LLP will be providing a further report and analysis once the outcome of the case has been determined.

Alastair Johnston
Solicitor – Dispute Resolution

Managing Your Millennials: A User’s Guide

Millennial: born between 1982 and 1995, millennial is the term used to describe the next generation of workers.


What are millennials?
Millennials are the new breed of worker.  They think differently from any other type of worker.  They are well educated, highly skilled in technology, very self-confident and have plenty of energy. They have grown up in a time of mobile phones, internet chat, multiculturalism and where the focus is on an individual’s rights rather than an individual’s responsibilities.  There are over 80 million of them, which is larger than any other generation.  By 2025, millennials will form 75% of our workforce.

Why should I care about millennials?
Employers can no longer expect to retain their workers for 10 to 20 years.  Instead research suggests that millennials will not stay in the same job for longer than three years.  Therefore if you do wish to cultivate and retain your existing millennials, it will be important to encourage and motivate them in an attempt to continue to utilise their unique skillset and viewpoints within your organisation.

Tips to manage millennials

Give them your gadgets: Millennials are not social media savvy – they’re social media sophisticated!  They have grown up in a time when communication with peers comes through the forum of social media.  They are the masters of digital communication and employers should utilise these talents whenever possible.  Rather than giving your senior managers the latest forms of workplace gadget, give them to your millennials.  They are much more likely to be able to find the benefit in new technology much quicker than your senior managers and, if asked, will likely educate the rest of your workforce as to the pros and cons of the latest gadgets.
Encourage creativity:  Millennials have grown up in a time where information is readily available at the touch of a button.  They are accustomed to being able to get instant answers to difficult questions from google or Wikipedia.  For this reason, they don’t get the same satisfaction from cross-referencing hundreds of authorities, eliminating secondary arguments and identifying the ultimate answer.  Instead they find a greater satisfaction from creativity and they should be encouraged to use their creative skills to problem-solve real-life issues.  This is more likely to stimulate their interest and therefore harness their potential.

Form a team, as opposed to an army:  Unlike previous generations before them, millennials are not accustomed to the workplace chain of command or company hierarchy.  Millennials don’t care about ranking, nor do they have an automatic respect for their senior colleagues.  Most millennials will dislike workplace conflict so instead of drilling respect into a hierarchical army, try strengthening a team.   If you can encourage your millennials to play a role in the team, they are more likely to be fulfilled in the workplace and work harder, better, faster, stronger.
Regular reviews:  Annual reviews are not effective with millennials.  They need more regular feedback.  They dislike fake compliments like “perfect” or “good job”.  Instead they want direct criticism on why they are wrong and where they can improve.  Indeed millennials have a strong desire to please and, if any shortfalls are addressed in a direct manner, this can only prove worthwhile for your company.
Harness your inner Harvey Specter:  Millennials are very, very stubborn and when something displeases them, they find it difficult to tell anyone other than their trusted few.  Normally their concerns are valid and, for this reason, a trusted relationship with their manager is essential if you want to hear these concerns.  Frequently the best managers of millennials are the ones who hold the same values and viewpoints as them.  If millennials are placed with managers who they trust, their loyalty should never be doubted.  As Harvey Specter famously stated, “Loyalty is a two-way street.  If I’m asking for it from you, then you’re getting it from me.”


Millennial translations
And remember that millennials will often speak a different language to you.  When they say, “That’s interesting, Si”, they mean, “Stop talking, Simon, this conversation is boring me and I want it to stop right now.”  And when they say, “You’re right, Si”, they mean, “Stop lecturing, Simon, this conversation is boring me and I want it to stop right now.”  And when they say, “Stop stirring, Si”, they mean, “Stop winding me up, Simon, this conversation is boring me and …” (you get the picture)

Commentators suggest that millennials are often entitled, impatient and have a limited ability to take criticism.  I would disagree.  In my experience, millennials are adaptable, contemplative and offer a new, exciting perspective to the workplace.  Millennials are our future leaders.

So if you want to manage your millennials effectively, re-think the way in which you deal with them and accept that a different work ethic is not necessarily the wrong work ethic.  Oh and, if you haven’t already done so, learn to speak emoji.  It is, after all, the fastest growing language of the millennials!

Simon Allison
Partner – Head of Employment Law

Corporate Deals Just Got Simpler

Prior to 1 July 2015, many solicitors in Scotland, and potentially some clients too, will have felt the challenge at times of getting corporate deals over the line and validly signed in Scotland.  It was previously thought by many in Scotland that “wet ink” signatures of all parties were required on the same copy of a contract, resulting in agreed form contracts being prepared ahead of completion (and sent round each party to sign independently) or large completion meetings being scheduled to allow all parties to sign at the same time.

With the coming into force of the Legal Writings (Counterparts and Delivery) (Scotland) Act 2015 (the “2015 Act”) on 1 July 2015, there is now certainty that contracts can validly be signed in counterpart in Scotland.  This is something solicitors south of the border have been able to do for some time, often to the envy of those to the north.  Counterpart signature is where the parties to an agreement sign separate physical copies of the same document.  The counterpart agreement is treated as a single signed document, comprised of each counterpart in its entirety or one counterpart in its entirety to which a signature page for each party has been attached.  Parties should note that when signing a document in Scotland, it is necessary to sign the whole document and not merely the signature page and the introduction of counterparts will not change this approach.

Where a document has been signed in counterpart, the fall-back position under the 2015 Act is that the contract is effective from the date all counterparts have been delivered.  Delivery of counterparts is possible by either:

  • each party delivering a signed counterpart to all other parties; or
  • a nominee being appointed to receive counterparts from all parties and deal with onward delivery of the counterparts to all parties (and in practice this is likely to be a solicitor for one of the parties).

Delivery of documents can take place by traditional means (post or hand delivery) or, with the introduction of the 2015 Act, by electronic means (including email, scanned attachment, fax, memory stick etc).  This applies whether or not a document is signed in counterpart (so will apply to all legal documents where delivery is required).

Where parties do not intend to use the fall-back position, and have agreed on a later date for the contract to come into effect, it will need to be clear from looking at the document when the effective date is intended to be.  With that in mind, it might be useful to adopt the same approach as English lawyers, dating the agreement on the front cover.

Finally, parties should note that where a document requires to be registered (for example in the Land Register of Scotland), such registration will still require all “wet ink” signatures to be on the same version.  It is possible to sign in counterpart, but the agreement should be made up of one counterpart with all original copies of the signature pages attached.  It is also recommended that where such a document is signed in counterpart, a counterpart clause is included within the contract.

The new legislation brings Scotland in line with the rest of the UK and aims to make executing contracts in Scotland much easier and far quicker.  It does not prevent the more traditional method of signing from taking place and parties can, if they choose, still opt to have completion meetings to sign the documents at the same time.  There is now, however, a less cumbersome, and a less costly, process for execution, providing greater flexibility to those involved and hopefully encouraging companies to do business in Scotland.

Ruth Weir
Solicitor – Corporate & Commercial

Can you fix it? Yes you can! #MakeItRight

Jackson has been causing a stir in '3's recent mobile campaign.
Jackson has been causing a stir in ‘3’s recent advertising campaign.

Have you met Jackson yet?  Surely you must know Jackson!  He is the charismatic purple muppet on the new 3 advert. For those of you have not had the chance to see it yet, it shows Jackson having a terrible day where anything that could possibly go wrong, does go wrong. However the character survives the tough times and decides to #MakeItRight.  In the employment law world this reminded me of a legal principle related to disciplinary and redundancy procedures that can be very beneficial to employers. A defect that may occur during a disciplinary or redundancy process can be cured if it is addressed at any appeal hearing.

Dangers of flaws in your disciplinary process

Obviously nobody is perfect and mistakes can happen during a disciplinary or redundancy process. For example a manager carrying out a disciplinary investigation might not fully investigate all of the issues raised by an employee or an employee may not have been provided with a meaningful consultation prior to his role being made redundant. These mistakes can ultimately be costly to an employer.  The bad news is that sometimes these errors or omissions can lead to a fair reason for dismissal being rendered unfair. If a dismissal is rendered unfair then an employer may be ordered by an employment tribunal to pay compensation to an employee.  Furthermore an unreasonable breach of the ACAS Code in procedure can lead to a 25% uplift in any amount awarded by a tribunal.

Using an appeal to cure these defects

The good news is that the law does provide a means for an employer to cure these defects if, for example, a full and proper hearing is carried out during the appeal. The appeal must be used to address the claims made that have been left unanswered during the disciplinary or redundancy process. If the employer can show that they have considered these claims and the reasoning for ruling them out, then an employment tribunal will be a lot more likely to decide that the dismissal was fair. The appeal hearing must represent a rehearing rather than merely being a review of the decision at the disciplinary hearing.

What an employer can learn

Managers carrying out a disciplinary or redundancy process are often going to make mistakes. This does not mean that the dismissal has to be unfair and if you take legal advice early enough, you can hopefully remedy the error and avoid compensation. So if you are in a situation where ‘stuff sucks’ (you will have to see the advert) because of an error or omission an employee has made during a disciplinary or redundancy process, take advice and use this opportunity to #MakeItRight at the appeal hearing!

Andrew Wallace
Solicitor – Employment Law

Holiday Pay: Volunteering an Update

It does not feel like we are more than 6 months on from the widely publicised holiday pay decision of Bear Scotland and others, but we are.  As a brief refresher, the Bear Scotland cases involved three appeals in which the EAT held that employees’ holiday pay should reflect “normal remuneration” and that required inclusion of non-guaranteed overtime.

The Bear Scotland cases were restricted to the issue of non-guaranteed but compulsory overtime (i.e. overtime which the employees were obliged to carry out if asked).  The EAT did not require to answer questions about voluntary overtime and some commentators suggested that the decision did not apply to voluntary overtime.

There was a case at Employment Tribunal level (Neal v Freightliner Ltd) which decided that payments for voluntary overtime did need to be included in holiday pay.  That case was due to be heard by the EAT at the same time as Bear Scotland, however the matter settled prior to the EAT hearing.  Accordingly, the issue of voluntary overtime remained untested at EAT level.

More recently, the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal has been faced with the question of whether voluntary overtime requires to feature in holiday pay.  In Patterson v Castlereagh Borough Council, the Court found that the employment tribunal had been wrong to rely on Bear Scotland as justification for excluding voluntary overtime from holiday pay.  The Court found that holiday pay is to be based upon normal remuneration.  The concept of normal remuneration is a matter of fact for the tribunal to determine on a case by case basis.   Accordingly, Mr Patterson’s case was remitted to the employment tribunal to determine whether the voluntary overtime did fall within normal remuneration.

Regrettably, the Court declined to offer any guidance on the tests which employers should apply in determining holiday pay, reminding us that this is a matter for case by case determination. This decision will not be the last in the ongoing holiday pay saga, although it does widen the scope for the inclusion of voluntary overtime in holiday pay.

Although the decision from the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal is not binding on UK employment tribunals, the decision is likely to carry a degree of persuasive weight and UK employers should take note (and keep ears to the ground for the decision of the remitted tribunal to follow).

Jack Boyle
Senior Solicitor – Employment Law