There has been significant information over the past few years about the impact of the generation called the Millennials on the workplace. Multiple studies have been done, reports written, consultants energized, books written and many other activities about the impact of the Millennials on the workforce. The activity in this area has become even more energized in the past couple years. This is certainly a worthy topic of conversation if for no other reason than this group represents about 84 million people. This is significantly more than the baby boomers and it is clear the impact they have had on cultural beliefs and economic issues as their members have navigated through history.
It?s interesting to read the research results and watch all the activity around how to deal with the millennials. It certainly makes sense to try to understand how to deal with, manage and lead this newly dominant force in the work environment. The millennials clearly do have some characteristic, that although not universally applicable, are worthy of consideration. They are getting married much later, purchasing homes later, avoiding automobile purchases where possible, more concerned about the environment and making their view visible, inclined to be community minded and desiring to get personally involved to make a difference, demanding opportunities to learn a grow as members of the workforce, wanting to know why they are being asked to do certain things and on and on. They are the best educated generation to move in to the workforce and by far the most technologically savvy. Their large numbers give them the clout to be assertive if not aggressive in making their views and desires known.
The question that is out there is how do we deal with, manage and lead this group versus how we have dealt with, managed and lead past generations. What?s more challenging is how do we now deal with this gigantic group while still having plenty of baby boomers and generation x members in the workforce?
Is it possible that the answer to how do we deal with a multigenerational workforce that is now 35% millennials and heading toward 75% in the near future is to create organizational cultures that engage all members of the workforce regardless of their generational affiliation? There are many organizations that are not seeing this generational dynamic as an issue. They learned a long time ago that their workforce is their most important asset and they have beliefs and values and the related policies, processes, procedures and behaviors that support engagement, and discretionary contribution that result in achieving key performance metrics resulting in success for their enterprise and all the team members.
I have recently interviewed executives and founders of 20 high performing companies ranging from relatively new companies in high tech environments, to non-profits and larger long established companies and they all have at least one thing in common; strong cultures and core positive beliefs about people. All of these companies have a generational mix including plenty of millennials and in some cases a majority of millennials Guess what? They don?t find the millennials to be a problem or challenge and they don?t have special treatment for them. They have created engaging, people oriented, high performance cultures and it works.
Perhaps the true long term answer to managing millennials is understanding their differences and making sure that your culture supports workforce engagement. The millennials are coming on strong and present an incredible opportunity for organizations that can understand how to create and maintain and engaging culture. It?s all about understanding people, your only true differentiator.