Millennials, sometimes called Generation Y, are people born in the 80s and 90s. They are changing the workplace more and more every year. They are young, eager, and demanding. They ask a lot from their workplace and businesses are trying to accommodate these young stallions. In the process, they just might revolutionize the workplace.
Millennials are leaders when it comes to fresh ideas. They are innovative and well-versed in technology. They demand more flexible hours than their predecessors, and want promotions based on success, not seniority. They prefer the dress code to be casual, and are generally more liberal-minded than their more seasoned counterparts.
A Pew Research study from 2010 showed that Baby Boomers cited “work ethic, respectfulness, and morals” as their defining qualities, while millennials chose “technology, music and pop culture, and liberal leanings.”
Some firms are trying out a “results-only work environment” (sometimes called “ROWE”) where hours are flexible so long as workers are generating results.
Millennials sometimes clash with older workers, usually members of the Baby Boom generation. Millennials were taught growing up to be expressive and confident, and this can come across as acting entitled and spoiled, especially when working with members from older generations. Kwoh from the Wall Street Journal says that when companies try to accommodate millennials’ demand for faster promotions and more responsibility, this comes “much to the annoyance of older coworkers who feel they have spent years paying their dues to rise through the ranks.” The groups can learn to work together, but it takes patience from both sides.
Ty Kiisel at Forbes says, “The challenge for business leaders today is harnessing the talent and drive of the younger workforce.” According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, millennials will make up more than 40% of the national workforce by 2020. This is why so many companies are scrambling to accommodate the young talent: they are (literally) the future.
Millennials will eventually phase out the baby boomers in the workplace, so it’s a losing battle to insist on workplace practices from the old days. Millennial philosophies aren’t just on their way; they’re here. Frankly, the American workplace could use a change. Americans are working longer hours, while wages have flat-lined and benefits have been cut. Casual attire and flexible hours might take the edge off. Maybe the millennials are on to something. They certainly think so.
John Bradley Jackson
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