Millennials (people born from the early 1980s to 2000) are the most talked about and most studied generation in today’s workforce. That trend is certainly true here at PCC. We’ve explored Millennials in depth through The Millennial Challenge, written about Millennials in several blog entries (click here for a few examples), and I’ve even appeared on The Curated Experience – twice (episode 11 and episode 13)! And our Millennial presentation continues to be one of our most requested programs.
Strangely, we don’t talk about any other generation like we do Millennials. We also don’t change an entire organization’s hiring practices, management policies, and even corporate culture to attract and keep workers like we do Millennial employees.
Most of the editorial written about Millennials revolves around negative stereotypes and characteristics. When asking older workers about Millennials, words such as entitled, lazy, and opinionated quickly roll off the tongue. While stereotypes come about for a reason and these words may in fact be applied to some if not many young workers, there is growing thought that the differences Millennials bring to the workplace are not so unique from previous generations.
For example, Millennials want to make as much money as possible. Millennials want to be respected. And Millennials want to enjoy the work environment and their colleagues, want the opportunity to learn new things and grow within the organization, and want a good boss. How are these things different than any other generation?
Within these similarities, though, Millennials may have slightly different expectations. For example, Millennials want to work for an organization that will invest them. Millennials, more than previous generations, want to work for a company that has a healthy corporate culture. Millennials also want to know how their individual work contributes to the organization’s overall performance as well as understand how the organization itself makes their community and the world a better place.
Millennials do, though, have several defining characteristics. Research shows a Millennial brain thinks and fires differently than brains of older workers. This new way of thinking allows Millennials to address business issues in unique ways, often finding distinct and creative solutions to business problems.
Millennials also tend to be more flexible than previous generations and like flexibility more than previous generations. This desire for a flexible work life, also known as work/life integration, means a Millennial worker may leave the office at 4pm, hang out with friends until 7, go home and log into the network for a few minutes, break for a three-hour Netflix binge, and then log back into the corporate network at 11pm for a few hours. Yes, some Baby Boomers may do the same, but most Boomers will be sleeping at midnight.
So what’s the bottom line? To be a high-performing organization, workers of all ages must work side-by-side in a healthy corporate environment. In fact, generational differences are just one aspect of diversity. Research is beginning to show that the highest performing organizations are also high in ethnic, gender and cultural diversity.
And for all of the hand wringing around the downfall of business due to Millennials’ inability to contribute to the corporate world, it’s turning out that Millennials have much to offer the workplace. In fact, the tactics implemented to attract and retain Millennials are the same tactics organizations should use to build an attractive work environment for workers of all ages.
Darren K. Ford
I've enjoyed a great career. Worked in many different industries with great coworkers and customers. I talk to a lot of people while drinking a lot of coffee. I read constantly. From all of this, I have much to say.