Generational Spotlight: Millennials Shaping the Future Workplace

Posted by Richard Jacobson

This blog entry is part one in Jacobson’s Generational Spotlight Series, which provides a general overview of the generations active in the workforce. While we understand that these overviews may include broad stereotypes that do not apply to all members of that particular generational breakdown, we believe there is value in looking at today’s professionals from a generational perspective in order to gain a better understanding of their viewpoints. 

People born in the last two decades have begun to change corporate office culture and small businesses in much the same way they've influences pop culture. From Tom McGhee, Denver PostThe Millennial generation—currently 77 million strong—is entering the workforce in vast numbers. Currently, Millennials account for 25% of the U.S. workforce and are expected to form 50% of the global workforce by 2020. They are the fastest-growing generational cohort and are expected to shape the world of work for years to come.

In order to recruit and retain this fast-growing generation, organizations must understand and appeal to their perspectives and desires. But just who are these Millennial professionals and what can organizations do to prepare for their foray into the world of business?

Born between 1980 and 2000, Millennials grew up in the era of “soccer moms” and multiculturalism. They were shaped by the end of apartheid, the fall of the Soviet Union, the World Trade Center attacks and subsequent wars in the Middle East. They grew up in a world that is global, connected and 24/7.

In the workplace, Millennials are looking for organizations that provide flexible hours, access to technology, room for professional development and a company culture that fosters work/life balance. They are likely to arrive on the job with high expectations and want to jump right into the day-to-day office workings. While they believe in the importance of a well-paying job, work is not seen as the sole priority in life. Rather, many Millennials desire to live meaningful, well-balanced lives and would readily sacrifice money to live the life they want.

Research shows that members of the Millennial generation tend to exhibit high levels of social concern and responsibility, wanting to make a difference and turn the world into a better place.Research shows that members of the Millennial generation tend to exhibit high levels of social concern and responsibility, wanting to make a difference and turn the world into a better place. They are drawn to organizations that have a socially minded culture and are supportive of their community. In fact, as mentioned in an earlier post, 61% of Millennials factor a company’s commitment to the community when making a job decision with 70% saying that they strongly favor companies with a reputation of community involvement. Highlighting corporate citizenship and the meaningful volunteer efforts your organization participates in is an important part of attracting this socially-conscious generation.

Millennials also possess a keen desire to learn from their leaders and colleagues. Organizations should consider pairing them up with mentors to guide them through their career journey. Managers and supervisors should be aware of their Millennial employees’ personal goals and spend time coaching and supporting them as they work toward them.

Millennials also boast some of the highest levels of education seen to-date and are eager for continuing education opportunities. They are hungry to expand their knowledge and experience and are likely to seek alternate job opportunities if they feel as if they are unchallenged in their current roles. Companies should look into offering lunch and learn programs, providing access to external, professional training and giving stretch assignments to challenge and engage these young professionals.

Millennials have already begun to make significant waves in the workforce with their unique perspectives and insights. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, “Their career aspirations, attitudes about work, and knowledge of new technologies will define the culture of the 21st century workplace.” What is your organization doing to prepare?