Also known as Generation Y, Millennials were born between 1980 and 1995. For them, technology was not an afterthought or something that needed to be accepted; it was a matter of course that was as natural to them as eating, sleeping or breathing. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have been part of their lives and integral to how they interact with peers since a very young age. Today, this cohort is a crucial segment of the workforce, making up over one-third. Just what does this mean for today’s workplace?
The Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers who preceded the Millennials expected to stay in the same job for many years, perhaps even for their entire working life. Authority figures were to be obeyed, and many employees did not believe they should have a voice in corporate decision-making. Gen Y has completely different expectations. They want a seat at the table and believe themselves to be in control of their own career destiny. Few believe that they will have the same job even five years from now.
Many may not even be interested in a conventional career path. Evidence of this departure from conformity can be seen in the rise of organizations such as Find Your Grind by Nick Gross. This foundation recognizes the desire of many of today’s young people to forge their own work trajectory outside of the mainstream education system. In order to retain these employees who are not at all wedded to the way things used to be, the workplace of the future must play to their strengths.
FLEXIBILITY AND OPENNESS
Millennials embrace the transparency and fluidity of social media. Hierarchy will be downplayed or dismissed altogether as is already evidenced by the open office plans of game-changers like Google, whose managers’ desks are placed right alongside those of the lowliest employees.
Technology and the internet in particular are making a culture of collaboration into the status quo in the modern workplace, which can be a physical office or a virtual team meeting. Software now enables documents to be edited and updated in real time and makes telecommuting the preferred standard for many employers. In this environment, a spirit of both transparency and trust develops, qualities that are highly important to Millennials.
This generation is not content to perform the same dull task over and over until they retire. They want to know exactly what they need to do to rise up the ladder, but they also respond best when allowed to design their own trajectory toward that success. Because loyalty is not a part of the equation for either employers or those who work for them, Millennials need to be convinced that management values them. The workplaces with the greatest level of employee retention will foster a culture that rewards creativity and values progress.
Technology continues to mold the lives of everyone in our culture. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Millennials who are gradually establishing their dominance in the modern workplace. Because of their willingness to excel while readily changing with the times, their future looks bright. That’s good news for our nation as a whole.