A couple of months ago I spoke at a conference and as I looked out at my audience my first reaction was – WOW this is a young group – I estimated that 75% of the people in the room were between the age of 20 and early 30’s. These are our Millennials. I also realized, as I spoke to them and engaged them in conversation, that this group is radically changing the way we do business. This is a group who behave and embrace life very differently from my generation – the Baby Boomers. We have a lot to learn from our Millennials, and although at times it seems a bit like mania, we need to embrace their way of working and living. The Millennials are moving in and are our future leaders, if not our current ones!
Millennials think outside the box. They are entrepreneurial in their problem solving and there is never just one right answer. There are options. Information is at their fingertips and the minute a question is posed or a challenge tabled they google it. Immediately they have possibilities and perspectives for consideration. Based on this quick access to information, problem solving is multi-dimensional with several alternatives. Millennials understand that one size does not fit all and they will embrace diversity as an optimal way to work and do business. They are right – the more diverse an organization is the more successful they are.
Millennials will not choose to work an 8 to 5 job, and why should they? Work doesn’t always need to be done during core business hours. As long as the customer/client is not impacted, why do we have to work during set hours? Why not enjoy volunteering at your child’s school for a couple of hours during the day and finish off a report in the evening after the kids go to bed if the report is not due until the following day. Getting results and meeting key performance indicators is more important to our Millennials than putting in hours. Shouldn’t we all be embracing this outlook?!
Millennials are focussed on a healthy life style. They are not interested in knowing what the standard group benefit plan looks like, although they do expect the basics, which include medical, dental and short and long-term disability. What they want to know is what are the additional benefits that speak to their total health – fitness and yoga classes; flexibility to go for a run in the middle of the day; health and psychological assessments; and alternative medicine options, as examples. If we are considering a revamp of our Group Benefit Plans we need to be prepared to broaden our perspective on what a competitive plan will look like in the future. It will need to take a more holistic approach to health and wellness. What a great idea!
Millennials like to communicate through email, a text and/or a tweet. Don’t expect them to book a meeting to discuss a specific idea or issue. They believe an electronic message allows the recipient to give some thought to the topic and to respond efficiently and expediently. They don’t want to waste their time coming and going from a meeting and dealing with unproductive meeting time. An email or a text, to them, is more effective and considerate. As a Boomer, I was taught the value of in-person meetings, but I’m quickly learning and loving the virtual meetings over email. My day, all of a sudden, seems to have more hours!
Millennials don’t have much patience for the chain of command. They have been raised and taught to ask questions and seek answers. They are often criticized by my generation as being impatient and having a sense of entitlement. That’s not their paradigm. They view it as being curious and quickly going to the source for information or answers. Chains of command are barriers, according to our Millennials, that need to be removed or climbed over to ensure efficiency and accuracy of information. This is an interesting perspective and one that I as a Baby Boomer would like to embrace.
Millennials are and will continue to impact how we do business. We can view it as mania and something that needs to be managed, or we can just embrace it as an emerging and effective way to work.
Salopek & Associates regularly works with clients on generational challenges in the workplace and how to embrace a diverse work force that has many generations, of which Millennials are becoming a majority. Please call us if you would like to explore how your organization can more effectively embrace our Millennials.