While there are many unsavoury adjectives associated with this generation – words like lazy, frivolous, entitled come to mind – the truth is that anyone at any age can be all of these things, and the most successful members of this group are purpose and impact-driven and actually make fabulous employees.
By 2025 this generation is expected to dominate the workforce, making up roughly 75% of it, so perhaps it’s time we stop putting them in the “participation trophy” box and prepare to make the most of what they have to offer us.
Here are some of the ways this generation is making waves in the workplace:
They see business as a team sport. Traditional business models involved their employees on a need to know basis, but this model is outdated. If you want to attract the best millennial candidates for your business, then you need to have a culture that promotes two things: empowerment and collaboration. These candidates are all about transparency, openness, and collaboration in the workplace, especially from management and executives. This new way of work requires companies to be honest with everyone. Whether things are going well or not so well they don’t want to be blindsided by any changes. Often if the ship is taking water, this generation will band together to save it rather than jump, if they are treated fairly and enjoy working for you. For millennials, it’s all about skills, passion, and excitement. They’re setting a new standard for leadership; be authentic, be transparent.
Work isn’t just a place you show up to anymore. Millennials are not about the 9 to 5 schedule. They want flexibility, on the clock or off the clock doesn’t matter to this generation, as long as they get the job done. Research actually shows that this way of working can result in higher levels of productivity and engagement in the workplace. It’s more about the result than the process.
Experience is a new degree. This generation sees degrees as a nice to have – and many organisations are following suit. They are more likely to hire based on skills and experience over a college degree and career development programs are high on their list of must-haves when considering a job offer.
They want work-life balance, integrating their work and home lives. They work to live – not the other way round. Millennials don’t want their work to take over their entire lives, they want the tools to get their jobs done efficiently and projects that provide meaningful work. They are also often more likely to choose more freedom over financial rewards.
Millennials are digital natives (read tech savvy). This generation was the first to grow up exposed to digital technology. This makes them more likely to be among the early adopters of tech in the workplace, and they already use a wide range of tools and apps to communicate, organise, achieve goals, and complete tasks. They are leading us into the future, where well-connected companies won’t need to be in the same building, city or country. They don’t shy away from change and enjoy a challenge – which will make them the perfect candidates as we move into the uncertain future.
They need a purpose to thrive. This doesn’t mean solving world hunger has to be on the agenda. They want to know what your vision is and how they fit into the bigger picture. Rewards don’t have to be monetary. They want to feel that their ideas are considered, appreciated/valued and implemented. Translation: they want to be heard. You can do away with or relook at annual performance reviews too. This generation wants your feedback on an ongoing basis so that they can constantly improve.
Millennials are rewriting the rulebook, setting the tone for future generations in terms of expectations from the workplace, career development, and even company leadership. There’s no question that this generation is taking over; companies that fail to adapt will be left in the dust.