What three things can Millennials teach the modern workplace?

October 2, 2017 5:26 pm

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Changing expectations, differing ideas of what ‘job satisfaction’ really means, and completely different attitude to the concept of reward…sometimes, workplace culture can seem like more of a generation battle. For Baby Boomers and even Gen X-ers, Millennials can seem hard to figure out. With a culture of transparency and little respect for the ‘it’s always been done that way’ attitude, the influence this generation has in the workplace has certainly ruffled feathers. And while there’s plenty to be learned from how things have been done in the past, there’s so much that this unique cohort of people is bringing to the office with them every day that can benefit companies as a whole:

Working in the clouds

Millennials have become adept digital natives, with their preferred mode of communication being online, and their ability to flit between seemingly endless platforms baffling to others. But one big win that millennials can help to introduce into a workplace is the notion of ‘untethered’ working, where systems speak to one another out in the internet landscape. From entirely virtual, web-based filing systems to documents that can be edited collaboratively, this generation is all about the seamless flow of data. For others more used to a rigid way of doing things, and company files that can only be accessed 9-5, at your desk this can seem challenging. But there’s much to be said for cloud-based working as it allows individuals to capitalise on their periods of peak productivity. And don’t even mention a printed payslip – from e-billing to managed print services from the experts – millennials can teach the corporations they work for that everything operates better when its digital.

Reward is bigger than money

One of the most significant generational trends is a move away from money and objects to experiences and intangible rewards that go beyond traditional models. Perhaps due to spiralling cost of living and housing, there is very much a focus on life outside of that narrow definition of success. Companies should learn from this to look beyond typical reward structures and more towards offering additional time off or experience based rewards to motivate their millennial workers – and other generations might find more to enjoy as well.

What’s in a title?

This generation has moved away from an era of automatic deference due to job titles and status and into a culture of earned respect. This creates a real meritocracy that is a more accurate reflection of different strengths individuals bring to the work ecosystem. And this can create real benefits for an organisation as people are assigned to projects by their skills and relevant recent experience. After all, if someone can bring genuine insight and value to a project, why are companies letting themselves be restricted by legacy practices and siloed, vertical hierarchies?

These factors are just a taster of the colourful, disruptive but ultimately improving force that can be brought into the workplace by Millennials – if only companies are willing to hear it and make small changes to work processes. The question is, are companies brave enough to accept the teachings on offer?

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