opinion

Commentary

Don't Panic: 5 Ways Millennials Are Going To Improve Your Workplace

People often ask me about Millennials and the impact they’re going to have on the workplace. It makes sense, given that I work in an industry that skews younger than average and I’m known to have a keen interest in talent management. So I’ll tell you what I tell them: If you’re anxious about the impending “takeover” by this new generation—they’ll account for three of four workers globally by 2025—don’t be. Millennials are already reshaping the workplace in significant ways, and in my view, it’s all for the good.

Here are five reasons we should welcome the impending swarm:

They’re allergic to monotony. Millennials don’t like to settle in. They change jobs more often than most people change cars. So if you want to keep them, you have to work at it. Whereas an occasional promotion or bump in pay used to be enough to keep someone satisfied, now all sorts of factors—including culture, mobility, and skills training—go into a person’s decision to leave or stay. Millennials are collectors of experiences, and they’re focused on building their personal brands. This means you need to ensure they’re always learning, always acquiring new proficiencies, and always being challenged. It will be good for them—and for your business.

They’re not big on rigidity. I actually think Millennials are way ahead of older generations on this one. Now that work is more a 24/7 endeavor than a 9-to-5 thing in many industries, why do so many of us still insist our employees be tethered to their desks for eight hours a day? I’d rather pay attention to what each person contributes, regardless of whether the work takes place at home at 3 a.m. or in the office at noon. Yes, there are times when a person absolutely has to be physically present at a set time, but I’m finding that allowing for more flexibility increases satisfaction and productivity.

They don’t intend to wait their turns. Drawing on a yearlong study of Millennials, Jim Davey, VP of global marketing at Timberland, told me, “They want to be integrated early into decisions and feel like they have the full picture. In the old days, you just did what the boss told you and tried to pick up context where you could, but that’s an outdated model.” Today’s businesses are simply too large and complex to allow for decision-making to be concentrated at the top. Be open about what you’re doing—and why. And don’t place artificial constraints on your talent based on age or seniority. This is a generation that will surprise you, in very good ways, if you give them a chance to show what they can do.

They love to tinker and hack. Some people point to multitasking as the Millennials’ signature trait, but I think it’s actually their tendency to seek out solutions (typically digital) on their own. Consider Marco Arent, who was frustrated by finding long, interesting articles he had no time to read during the day. He tinkered together a mobile solution, and Instapaper was born. Take advantage of these entrepreneurial thinkers by giving them the freedom—and tools—to create fixes, big and small.

They want their work to mean something. I find it a little odd when people complain about Millennials wanting to “do good” while on the clock. Why wouldn’t you want your work to be aligned with your personal values? More than earlier generations, Millennials expect to drive change in the world. Take every opportunity to engage your talent in something more meaningful than just hitting your quarterly numbers. The good news: That increased engagement will help you hit those numbers.

To those of us who work with them, it’s abundantly clear that Millennials have no intention of molding themselves into the existing culture the way previous cohorts did. They have the numbers and passion to run roughshod over entrenched corporate customs that make increasingly less sense in the modern work world. I say, let them disrupt the old ways of working and bring in new ways of doing business. It will be to the benefit of us all.

Next story loading loading..