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Millennials' influence on the workplace

The Millennial generation, now entering employment in vast numbers, will shape the world of work for years to come. Attracting the best of these millennial workers is crucial to the future of your business. Their career aspirations, attitudes about work, and knowledge of new technologies will define the culture of the 21st century workplace. It is clear that Millennials will be a powerful generation of workers and that those with the right skills will be in high demand. They may also represent one of the biggest challenges that many organisations will face.

Meaningful differences 

Millennials' use of technology clearly sets them apart. One of the defining characteristics of the Millennial generation is their affinity with the digital world. They have grown up with broadband, smartphones, laptops and social media being the norm and expect instant access to information. This is the first generation to enter the workplace with a better grasp of a key business tool than more senior workers. It is more than just the way Millennials use technology that makes today's youth different - they behave differently, too. Their behaviour is coloured by their experience of the global economic crisis and this generation place much more emphasis on their personal needs than on those of the organisation.

Millennials tend to be uncomfortable with rigid corporate structures and turned off by information silos. They expect rapid progression, a varied and interesting career and constant feedback. In other words, Millennials want a management style and corporate culture that is markedly different from anything that has gone before - one that meets their needs. The particular characteristics of Millennials - such as their ambition and desire to keep learning and move quickly upwards through an organisation, as well as their willingness to move on quickly if their expectations are not being met - requires a focused response from employers. Millennials want a flexible approach to work, very regular feedback and encouragement. They want to feel that their work is worthwhile and that their efforts are being recognised. And they value similar things in an employer brand as they do in a consumer brand. These are all characteristics that employers can actively address.

What can employers do? 

The companies that have already been the most successful in attracting talented millennials - Google and Apple are among them - are naturally innovative employers who are never restrained by "how things used to be done". These companies are not specifically targeting Millennials, but their culture, management style and approach to recruitment and retention naturally appeal to the Millennial generation. And because of that, they are able to take their pick of the best younger talent around. Irrespective of the long-term aims and ambitions of an individual company, the ability to attract and retain Millennial talent will be a vital step to achieving it.

Successful organisations today, and in the future, will need to implement important workplace processes and programs including:

  • Strong Culture: Collaborative tools and processes to fulfil the expectations of Millennial generations, while seamlessly integrating them into existing workflow to maximise workforce performance. It is important to identify what emotionally drives your Millennial employee to build strong team culture.
  • Career advancement: Frequent and abundant professional development and career advancement opportunities. Career progression is the top priority for Millennials who expect to rise rapidly through organisation.
  • Financial stability: Shoring up of wage disparities and providing employee recognition and rewards that deliver younger generations the financial stability they desperately seek.
  • Technology: Integration of the social and emerging technologies that will satisfy Millennial desires for such tools, while enabling more productivity and less distraction. They expect the technologies that empower their personal lives to also drive communication and innovation in the workplace.
  • Managerial training: Talent assessment and development initiatives for Millennial managers so they may effectively perform and succeed in their valuable roles. 

The right direction 

Millennials have seen that corporate loyalty does not necessarily bring rewards or even long term security in today's economic environment. It is clear that many millennials are keeping an eye out for new opportunities even if they are not actively looking for a new job. Employers need to work much harder on understanding this generation and appealing to their needs in order to attract and retain. However, they also need to accept that a rate of millennial churn may be inevitable and build this into their manpower planning. 

Millennials are looking for more in life than "just a job" or a steady climb up the corporate ranks. They want to do something that feels worthwhile, they take into account the values of a company when considering a job, and they are motivated by much more than just money. The Millennials' desire to learn and progress is apparent in their view of the benefits offered by employers. When asked which benefits they would most value from an employer, respondents named training and development and flexible working opportunities over financial benefits.

The employers that appeal the most to this generation are those that successfully answer the tricky question: "Why do I want to work here?" Millennials want their work to have a purpose, to contribute something to the world and they want to be proud of their employer. The brands that appeal to young people as consumers including those that stress their environmental and social record, are the same brands that appeal to them as employers.

Needed solutions

Younger workers are defined by their optimism and energy and the survey shows clearly that they believe they can achieve anything with the right focus and access to learning. Millennials have particular needs and expectations when it comes to learning and career development. In an ideal world, they would like to see their boss as a coach who supports them in their personal development - but also generally prefer to learn by doing rather than by being told what to do. Don?t wait too long and develop yourself and your company as fast as the world around.  


 ?Millennials at work. Reshaping the workplace.? PwC report


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