Every generation brings with it new innovations, new contributions and new mindsets. Baby Boomers were industrious and dedicated, striving to provide for their families and realize the American dream: white picket fence, two cars, two kids, 30-year mortgage.
Members of Generation X, who often raised themselves due to two working parents, tend to be distrustful of corporate motives. They turned the marketplace on its head, bucking the system when they axed their parents’ tradition of staying with a single company their entire career and transitioned to the job-hopping that is so common today: 3 years here, 5 years there.
Now millennials come along, with their coddling parents and their strong ideals. As with the generations before them, they were bound to change the face of business, but how? Well, here are 13 of the biggest ways they’re making an impact and re-molding the business world as we speak.
1. Goodbye, Office?
Katie Morell explains that in future decades, the office as we know it will lose traction, to be replaced by a variety of telecommuting workspaces. She quotes Lindsey Pollak’s book, Getting from College to Career, explaining, “People will work at desks a lot less often; instead they will work from home, a coffee shop or a shared space … We will have a lot more virtual workers who never come into the office at all.”
2. Family Support Required
Millennials care very much about being home for their families, and they disagree with the notion that they should have to choose between career and family life. They want to eat with their spouses and kids, attend sporting events, go on family trips and be present for all the other major life milestones: first steps, story time, tooth fairy visits. Smart companies are making room for this. Deloitte Dads is an excellent example of a family-first initiative, this one sponsoring the father’s need to achieve work-life balance, instead of the oft-cited emphasis on the mother’s.
3. Idealistic to a Fault
A recent article for Entrepreneur by Doug and Polly White opines that “although [millennials have] seen corruption in their sports heroes, business leaders and even their president, they continue to believe that they will change the world for the better.” This idealism runs through many aspects of the millennial’s approach to career, from their social media posts to their volunteering-rich resumes to their desire to work for a company that can help them make a difference.
4. Altered High Education Landscapes
It stands to reason that as millennials are changing the business landscape, that is being recognized in college and graduate school. While thought leaders are busy bemoaning the devaluation of the degree, millennials are hard at work earning them, says the Pacific Institute Education Initiative: “According to the PEW Research center, some 63% of Millennials value a college education and plan to get one.” University enrollment is going strong, and it’s thanks to the ever-growing millennial emphasis on college before career.
5. Flexible Schedules
Millennials want to design their own schedules. They’re comfortable working evenings and weekends, and even holidays, so long as they are the ones who choose those hours. They object to the long hours their parents put in, want to be home for dinner for their own children, and crave the freedom to vacation and work on personal projects. Luckily for them, the digital revolution has made this possible like never before.
6. Less Carrot, Less Stick
Again, this generation, more than any before it, really cares about making a difference and finding meaning in work. A recent survey by LinkedIn shows that 74 percent of job candidates think meaning is very important for their work. This means that neither material gain nor perceived punishments will motivate them nearly as much as feeling like they’re making a difference, are part of something and are working for the right reasons. Employers who want good candidates should make a mental note to create environments where impact thrives.
7. Reconsidered Rewards and Recognition
That’s not to say millennials don’t want to be rewarded at all, however. They do. But they don’t want those rewards limited to large gifts or bonuses at the end of a quarter or a year, nor do they want to wait that long for their recognition. According to FOND, here is a much better approach:
Traditional “milestone” recognition that’s tied to big events or tenure does very little to increase millennial motivation and engagement. In fact, 51% of employees in one study said receiving a milestone award had no impact on their view of their jobs. Personalizing such awards by adding career details would make milestone recognition more meaningful, according to 68% of those surveyed. Instead of basing recognition on milestones, however, today’s high-performance programs focus on achievements and are “social,” letting anyone in the company recognize anyone else.
8. Tell Me What You REALLY Think
Millennials are insistent that they get feedback on the regular. Whereas previous generations would plug away, waiting for the annual review and hoping not to screw up in the meantime, millennials want to know how they’re doing – and they want to know now. Thus companies are having to rearrange their chains of command and management strategies to give millennial workers access to mentor-like bosses who will respond to their questions, analyze their performance and guide them through the work process. While this may seem like babysitting, many companies are benefiting from it through better communication and greater innovation.
9. Loyal to the Job, Not the Employer
Karl Moore relates a personal story about his friend that demonstrates handily the difference between old mindsets and new:
A Vice President friend of mine got laid off two weeks ago by a big multinational. When I talked to him that day he reflected that he had always told headhunters when they called, he was loyal to the firm, right after he said that his voice cracked as he realized what he had just said about the firm that fired him that very day.
This is why, he explains, “Millennials are loyal to a job rather than an employer. This is partly a response to their parents sometimes being loyal to a firm that would often lay them off without hesitation when times got rough.”
10. Less Emphasis on Savings
It’s difficult to rely on a pension when you hop from job to job or work for yourself. Naturally there are plenty of millennials who stay at one job for a long time, or who work for government organizations that offer significant pension benefits. Many, however, aren’t so worried about their financial security anymore, despite claims that they won’t have enough money for retirement. Instead, they prioritize freedom and flexibility, which comes with reduced retirement benefits but contributes substantially to their other values. Plus, they don’t plan to retire at the age of 55 after 30 years at a company. With the expanding life expectancy and purpose-driven careers that can last into the 70s and 80s, prioritizing savings in your 30s is less of an issue.
11. New Methods of Investment
Millennials also don’t seem to care much about purchasing houses, preferring to put off the investment in favor of freeing up money for experiences now. This raises the question, of course, of whether they will have enough to live on once they retire. But millennials aren’t stupid; they’re still saving in other ways. Examples include self-directed IRAs, regular ol’ savings accounts and smart stock market investments. And of course, many still have traditional 401(k)s and other investment vehicles offered by their companies.
12. The Sharing Economy Rules
Millennials care very much about the sharing economy. They are putting off large expenses such as cars, homes and office spaces for startups. Instead, they use rideshare services, rent their homes and use shared workspaces for career needs. This sharing economy further contributes to their waning need for material recognition; it is also quite literally changing our world, and the face of business as we know it.
13. Changing Consumer Habits
Millennials are also changing the face of business from outside the workforce. Millennials are the biggest generation in United States history, at 92 million people as of 2017. That’s a huge proportion of people who are now contributing their dollars to our economy. The millennial emphasis on experiences over possessions is having a considerable impact on formerly important items such as luxury bags and clothing, jewelry or the aforementioned cars. Companies who want their patronage are struggling to keep up with the experience mentality millennials demand. If they’re going to buy something, it must contain meaning – so those who sell must create it. Which, in our materialism-weary culture, is seen by many as a good thing.
Whether you’re a millennial who cares deeply about imparting the above values to your workplace, or an employer hoping to catch and retain the highest-value employees, it’s important to understand what’s at stake. These changes in business are no mere passing fad; they are redefining the workplace, business and commerce, and indeed, the entire concept of work altogether.
In future, millennials will no doubt become antiquated (at least according to their children), and they will need to make room for newer values yet. For now, however, we can expect business to be flexible, mobile, communicative, responsive, purpose-driven and self-directed. So welcome to the not-so-new millennium, and the workers who are driving it.
- FOND. (2017). Here’s how millennials want to be recognized at work. Retrieved from https://fond.co/blog/heres-how-millennials-want-to-be-recognized-at-work/
- Goldman Sachs. (2017). Millennials coming of age. Retrieved from http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/pages/millennials/.
- Kachroo-Levine, M. (2017, May 2). Why millennials aren’t saving enough to retire. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/mayakachroolevine/2017/05/02/millennials-arent-saving-enough-for-retirement-heres-how-to-get-on-the-right-track/#579405694610
- Konrad, A., & Shuh, A. (2013). Deloitte Consulting GTA: The Deloitte Dads Initiative. Cambridge: Harvard Business Review.
- LinkedIn. (2016). Purpose at work – 2016 global report. Retrieved from https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/job-trends/purpose-at-work?src=gua#
- Moore, K. (2014, October 2). Millennials work for purpose, not paycheck. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/karlmoore/2014/10/02/millennials-work-for-purpose-not-paycheck/#64d0c7166a51
- Morell, K. (2017). 3 ways millennials will change the face of business. Retrieved from https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/3-ways-millennials-will-change-the-face-of-business/
- Pacific Institute Education Initiative. (2017). Who are the millennials? Retrieved from http://educationinitiative.thepacificinstitute.com/articles/story/millennials-changing-the-face-of-higher-education
- Pollak, Lindsey. (2007). Getting from college to career: 90 things to do before you join the real world. New York City: HarperCollins.
- White, D., & White, P. (2014, December 23). What to expect from Gen-X and millennial employees. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/240556