Complaints are everywhere about how difficult it is to incorporate millennials (considered to be adults between the ages of 18-34) into the workforce. Of course, it’s nothing new. Every generation complains about how spoiled and entitled the newer generations act.
Millennials Create a Tipping Point
There’s good news though. The millennial generation is large enough to create a transitional tipping point away from industrial age business practices. TIME magazine reported, in May 2015, that millennials make up the largest generation in the workforce. Currently, there’re estimated to be 53.5 million of them and growing as more high school and college students graduate and join the ranks of the employed.
Out with the Counterproductive – In with the Meaningful
Keep in mind that counterproductive industrial age behaviors have led to the lowest levels of employee engagement in recent history, environmental disasters of all kinds, and reoccurring financial devastation since the mid to late 1800’s. The evidence is painfully clear. It’s time to change how business is done.
Millennials have already shown distaste for the out dated industrial age mindsets and business practices. Thankfully, they have begun to phase out those practices as they take over leadership roles. It reminds me of the early days in my career when I thought to myself, “When I’m the boss, I’m never going to treat people this way.” This newest generation is taking that concept to the next level by humanizing the ground rules.
10 Millennial Priorities and How They Make Businesses Better:
- Purpose. Millennials want to work for businesses that make our world a better place in some way. Given a choice, millennials choose to work for businesses that serve a purpose greater than profits alone.
Business Benefit: Making the world a better place is one of the most compelling reasons for people to consistently do their best work. Many studies have reported benefits to both individual and organizational performance when it comes to serving the greater good.
There is an endless list of ways to improve our world. Businesses can make a meaningful dent in that list by actively taking part in large and small ways.
- Meaningful work. In addition to working for companies that make our world a better place, millennials want to do work that clearly supports that purpose. They want their effort to have real value.
Business Benefit: To super charge overall employee performance, show each person how their work adds value and supports the organization’s efforts to make the world a better place. Millennials aren’t the only ones energized by knowing their work has meaning, they may simply be the first generation that has collectively asked how their jobs fit into the big picture.
- Fun at work. It would be easy to misconstrue this one. We’re not talking about playing games all day. Millennials simply want to find joy and happiness in their work.
Business Benefit: Studies have shown that organizations that have 3 – 6 positive interactions to 1 negative interaction significantly outperform those with lower ratios. Positive workplaces enjoy higher employee engagement which means that they are 43% more productive, producing 23% more revenue, and employees are 87% less likely to leave (as reported by Madison Performance Group in Jan 2015).
Added benefits include a more collaborative and cooperative culture which leads to more creativity and innovation. All in all, it creates an upward spiral for organizations and the people in and around them.
- Direct communication. Millennials believe in plain and concise communication. They are masters in the art of 140 character communication.
Business Benefit: Corporate speak is not looked on favorably by employees, customers, stakeholders or the public at large. It’s often vague, confusing, and convoluted. Regulators have been pushing for the use of concrete easy to understand language in investor, employee and consumer reporting for the physical and financial safety of the general public. The millennial influence can go a long way in the development of meaningful communication that promotes public trust.
- New perspective. Millennials have an entirely different perspective of the world, how things work, and ways to make things better.
Business Benefit: Every day we hear the importance of being creative and innovative. Outdated mindsets, self-limiting beliefs and cognitive biases often inhibit progress. What better way to overcome those challenges than to look at every aspect of business from a fresh perspective?
- The Internet of Things. Millennials are the first generation that grew up digital. They instinctively see ways to use the internet that many of us (those that grew up analog) can’t imagine.
Business Benefit: The internet has permanently changed the world as we know it. The rate of change is accelerating dramatically due to the perpetual advances in technology. Growing up digital has given millennials insights into a world of possibilities that need to be nurtured and developed for business who hope to remain relevant in today’s economy.
- Why. Millennials seem to question everything. Partly, to understand how their work fits into the big picture and to satisfy themselves that there isn’t a better way to get the job done.
Business Benefit: Operating in the status quo is what keeps businesses from breaking away from the pack. One of the best ways to break free from the status quo is to constantly challenge and improve the way things have always been done or leap-frog them altogether to capitalize on new and disruptive technologies. In reality, the reasons why have probably gone by the wayside and no one ever noticed…
- Adaptable. Millennials adapt to change every time a new gadget comes out. They’ve been absorbing leaps in technology and dramatic change in the world around them from birth. They don’t give the ongoing need to change anything and everything a second thought. As far as they’re concerned, change is a normal part of life.
Business Benefit: Millennials aren’t vested in legacy systems or doing things the way they’ve always been done. And they’re excited to learn and try out new things! Historically, resistance to change has been a common managerial struggle. The mindset has been that change was hard…now we have a new generation who want to be a catalyst of change for the better.
- Collaborators. Collaboration is second nature to millennials. Hoarding information doesn’t even occur to them. Millennials have already figured out that knowledge is the only natural resource that grows when it’s shared and they love to share!
Business Benefit: Companies struggle with information silos to this day. Now we have an entire generation of people who don’t have that information hoarding gene in their DNA. Now the log jam will break free and people who need information will always have access to it. When you consider that collaboration is a basic requirement for innovation, it’s even more important.
- Transparent. Millennials are the most transparent generation to date. Their use of social media means that their lives, the good and the “not so flattering,” are out there for the world to see. Millennials aren’t bothered by the thought of having their life on display. In fact, they expect their peers to be transparent and they prefer the rest of the world operate the same way.
Business Benefit: Transparency builds trust. Trust is something money can’t buy. There are very few companies that are considered trustworthy in today’s world. Companies need to build trust, with their employees, customers, business partners, and the public at large. The millennial habit of “telling it like is” and “putting it all out there” for the world to see will usher in a new era of trust in those companies that choose to participate.
Don’t Believe Everything You Hear
While millennials have been getting a lot of bad press about jumping ship if a job doesn’t fulfill their passions, a study by IBM shows that Gen Xer’s are actually the most likely to leave their job to make more money and work in a more creative, innovative environment. Millennials and boomers were tied for second place in the study. So, don’t fall prey to stereotypes.
See related article: Set Millennials Up to Succeed