Most of today's leaders are worried about the preparedness, industriousness, severity, and dedication of the millennial generation: individuals born between 1980 and 2000 (give or take a couple of years in either way ).
They ought to be concerned. After all, millennials account for a substantial and growing percentage of the labor force. In the United States, they're projected to make up "around 75% of the... workforce" by 2025, the Brookings Institution reports.
Moreover, one of the expert said, "more and more of them are... moving to management ranks--occupying places where they could exert considerable influence on their associations." and its true too.
In other words, they're a large and important component of our organization--and most organizations. We've been anticipating this for ages. Now it is true: the new standard.
Having said that, these same millennials catch a lot of flak. We're told they're disengaged, self-absorbed and thin-skinned, unable to accept constructive criticism without falling apart. In some circles, they are even known as the "snowflake production" The sobriquet isn't only unflattering, but unjust. It is a terrible rap that dismisses the advantages they bring to the table.
In truth, the millennial production in certain respects is not much different than the generations that preceded them. If you examine 2015 survey data from the Center for Work & Family at Boston College's Carroll School of Management, by way of instance, you will find that millennials want what others have desired: satisfying careers with opportunities to progress both financially and professionally. And against the oft-repeated assertion that they're disloyal, the poll indicates that they're not particularly anxious to project jump; should they enjoy their work and see chances to progress they'd rather stay with their current employers.
But the story does not end there. Other surveys, by way of example, reveal that lots of millennials are very inclined to jump from job to job should they feel unfulfilled or at a dead end. Employers will need to comprehend this.
Employers also must understand that millennials have another perspective than their parents (Generation Xers) and grandparents (Baby Boomers) on the degree to which work must dominate their own lives, exactly what the jargon-meisters call "work/life equilibrium".
Work/life equilibrium is important to them. Sure, they are prepared to work their tails off: but only up to some point, apparently. (This doesn't apply to law business associates and medical interns; they're crazily anticipated to work their tails off to the stage of fatigue.) If work conflicts with their personal priorities, millennials anticipate their employers to adopt them. And, like I discussed in a previous column on dual-career families, wise companies will attempt to do this if they can.
- Since we are not our companies' future, there. And,
- Because they bring a lot to the table.
To begin, they know consumers and are informed customers themselves. That's a huge advantage; make use of it.
Furthermore, they are also "digital natives" and possess valuable skills many veteran employees can never hope to match. In fact, they're so knowledgeable in digital technologies and social media, among other areas, that they are ideal applicants to mentor senior leaders in such disciplines, as edtech executive James Kenigsberg has suggested.
Another underappreciated advantage of millennials is the fact they're a whole lot more motivated by purpose compared to previous generations. As Fetherston and Vilas Dhar (now her husband) wrote at a 2014 Harvard Business Review article, a vast majority of millennials think "that company, not the government, will have the greatest impact in solving society's most pressing challenges"--and they wish to be a part of them. This implies they want the organizations that employ them, and the elderly leaders of these businesses, to be part of that procedure. This is a double win because associations with intention --associations that engage their workers --fared better financially than other organizations, our research shows. What is not to enjoy?
Sure, the millennials are distinct --as the Boomers were distinct than the generation that lived during the Great Depression and World War II. As Fetherston finds: "They climbed up with exceptional parenting and education experiences--including being often reminded they can do anything they set their minds to."
Millennials may have to be handled differently than older workers. Leaders can ignore this reality or embrace the choice is theirs. My money will be on the latter strategy. It will serve us all well.