Millennials, the generation born between the early 1980s to the early 2000s, are now a solid part of the American workforce, comprising over 35% of all employees. With their increasing presence in workspaces, it’s worth asking: How are Millennials changing the workplace?
Millennials bring a variety of social and cultural experiences to their careers. As they grew into adulthood, they watched the birth and growth of the Internet, the advent of social media, strong socio-political and cultural conflicts, and a major economic recession. These myriad influences, along with the parenting styles of baby boomers, helped form a generation that’s resilient, optimistic, purpose-driven, and flexible. As they bring these values to the workplace, they’ve helped to shape how companies offer benefits, schedule working hours, and communicate purpose. In fact, there are four major ways Millennials are changing the workplace.
1. Millennials are Changing Workplace Technology
If asked, most Millennials can verbally recreate the squeaking, cracking, and high-pitched squeals that accompanied dial-up Internet access. Yet, even speeds of 56 kbps allowed Millennials access to more information on a desktop than prior generations had in large libraries. Since they are “digital natives,” many Millennial employees feel greater ease with technology than their older counterparts. This can be a great benefit in a variety of industries. Employers can trust Millennial workers to research, implement, and troubleshoot new technologies that can transform workflows and productivity. Millennials are also big fans of big data, and they’re primed to collect, analyze, and interpret information on click-thrus, conversion, and customer engagement.
2. Millennials are Changing Workplace Stability
Although the exact numbers are hard to pin down, most studies show that Millennials change jobs at a higher rate than their predecessors. Although serial job-hopping may appear problematic, it has some hidden benefits beneath the tumult it can cause in lives and organizations. In reality, changing roles, positions, and workplaces allow Millennials to see a wide variety of industry approaches and management styles. This means that when they arrive in a new workspace, they can offer new ideas and thoughtful observations based on prior experiences. Millennials are also highly flexible workers, due to the fact that they’ve held many roles. If you’re looking for a classic “many hats” employee in a smaller business, a Millennial might be just the right match to take on several roles at once.
3. Millennials are Changing Workplace Flexibility and Transparency
Millennials value flexibility in their work, a high level of transparency, and a strong work-life balance. These priorities have helped change workplace expectations for employee responsibilities. While a typical 8 to 5 schedule was the norm even a decade ago, technology and employee preferences have created an increase in flexible work schedules, remote work, the gig economy, and the sharing economy. Millennials are drawn to workplaces with measurable benefits in addition to a salary, and flexibility is top among their concerns. They also desire a high level of transparency in their careers, with access to supervisors and administrators. It’s a good idea to establish a crystal-clear feedback process to support the annual review process. Many Millennials leave positions if they feel feedback is only offered once yearly. Frank, open conversation within a company hierarchy is highly sought after and deeply appreciated.
4. Millennials Are Changing Workplace Values and Purpose
Another trait that many Millennial workers share is a desire for a higher purpose in their working lives. This generation is drawn to workplaces that can clearly state the value they bring to their clients and to the world. As part of a globally-aware group, Millennials want to know how the work they do benefits those around them, and employers who can communicate their values are often preferred. Millennials also want to connect their specific skills and interests to a company’s larger vision. Employers can encourage greater engagement from Millennial workers by helping them craft roles that truly reflect their talents. Finally, Millennial employees want to give back. Since they can be somewhat skeptical of capitalism, they want to work for companies that contribute to their communities. Whether it’s through profit sharing, volunteerism, or sponsorship, employers must brainstorm ways they can support organizations around them to attract and retain a committed younger workforce.
Supporting a New Generation of Workers
Millennials in the workforce have been maligned as entitled, self-absorbed, restless, and lazy. The reality is that they’re engaged, creative, analytical, and thoughtful. As they’ve begun to integrate into the larger workforce, they’ve become a true catalyst for workplace change. Is your workspace prepared to provide the amenities, benefits, and feedback that younger workers are looking for? LBMC Employment Partners has years of experience providing tools for the workplace that will allow you to create a compelling work environment for every employee, regardless of their generational traits. Contact us today to learn more about how our tools and approach can help you support your employees and the strength of your business. We’ll help you make a good business better.