3 min read | 15 January, 2019 By Sarah Benstead
'Millennial' is one of those buzzwords that the media continues to bandy about and give a lot of negative press to. But what is a millennial? Is the criticism really deserved? And should you be thinking about their impact on your business?
Millennials are people born between the early Eighties and mid-Nineties. They are the people who started coming of age around the millennium, hence the name. It’s been 19 years since the turn of the century and now those graduates are increasingly occupying managerial positions in the workplace.
The first millennials began entering the workforce around 2000 onwards and ever since then their numbers have been growing. As baby boomers reach retirement, it is inevitable that millennials are now occupying more and more roles, and more senior ones at that. One study believes millennials will account for 75% of the global workforce by 2025.
It’s not a bad thing, despite the demonisation of millennials in the press, and is part of the normal working life cycle. However, millennials are challenging the status quo and increasingly implementing new ways of behaving and carrying out business.
The first millennials have now been working for almost 20 years. Naturally, they’ve climbed up the career ladder and are occupying more and more management roles. But the way they manage is often very different from older generations and this is leading to inevitable clashes of ideas with more traditional management styles.
Millennials are tech savvy, embodying the digital age, and therefore use tech much more in work than previous generations. They also embody a more collaborative management style, the sharing of ideas and brainstorming and prefer working in teams. Perhaps even more crucially, they eschew boring, repetitive work, want a life outside of their job and expect enough flexibility from their employer to enjoy both their professional and personal commitments.
As we said earlier, the first millennials entered the workforce around 2000 but they didn’t stay the new kids on the block forever. Although the youngest millennials are now 20 and just starting work, the oldest ones are in their mid to late 30s and more often than not, running things, even managing Baby Boomers and Generation X workers too.
And they are shaping management culture into something quite different than in previous generations.
Millennials are the first generation for whom monetary compensation is not the driving factor when they pick an employer. This was backed by a Gallup poll which revealed only 48% considered overall pay as the main consideration. Instead, many would rather work with a company whose values align with their own, where they have the opportunity to grow and learn and where they find the work actively interesting. It has led to a shift in culture where the focus is now on values, vision, opportunities for development and growth and a passion for work.
Millennials value regular feedback and one of their biggest complaints is there isn’t enough given or that the feedback they are given isn’t of value. They want a workplace which is more engaging with a two-way conversation with management. As a result, millennials in management are trying to create those feedback opportunities they feel they lacked when they were in more junior roles.
Millennials have grown up in age of instant gratification and with technology all around them. As a result they are prepared to act fast and to adopt new technologies very quickly. When they become managers they have the power to make such changes happen – they’re not afraid to undergo big changes or to react rapidly.
More than any other generation, Millennials are open to other cultures and are often religiously neutral. They want to travel, explore and learn about new things so increasingly they pick companies with strong diversity programmes. As management they are the driving force behind the creation of such programmes.
Millennial managers are more aware of their corporate social responsibility and increasingly want to work in businesses that also value this. They would much rather support brands and businesses which adopt this approach. The causes might be different among them (climate change, homelessness, refugees etc) but giving back to the community is a strong feature of millennial management.
Millennial managers work hard but they also value leisure time and the importance of giving staff regular breaks. As a result, there is now greater flexibility in working patterns with home working, job sharing, flexible holiday time and accommodating personal responsibilities like parenting or caring. They would rather lose a bit of pay and work for a company that gives weight to employee health and happiness than one which doesn’t.