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Millennials Generation in the Workplace & Their Impact on the Future of Work

July 19, 2016

We have been hearing about Millennials in the workplace for quite some time now – in fact I wrote about and have researched generations in the workplace for a number of years and my best selling book “101 Ways to Make Generations X, Y and Zoomers Happy at Work” is still going strong.

My most recent book on leading and managing change in the workplace has updated research and data on the generations and specifically the millennials. The focus now is on how the generation millennials are shaping the future of work.

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As a change leadership expert, here are the top 3 ways that the millennial generation is quickly impacting companies and the future of work:

  1. The millennial generation are not responding to ‘managing change’. This generations see themselves as disruptors, questioners and leaders of change. Also known as Gen Y – there is standing joke that that they are called Gen Y because they always asked ‘why’. Asking ‘why’ is a key skill that millennials bring to the workplace. “Why” is the core question to spark creativity, innovation and new ways of doing things. The future of work will include ALL generations working from the question of ‘why’. Why do we do things this way? Why do we still do things this way? Why are we here? Asking WHY and finding creative solutions is a gift and a positive disruption millennials bring to the workplace. Future of work EVERYONE will ask why as part of ongoing daily best practices.
  2. The millennial generation wants to be ‘led’ differently and they want to lead others differently. What does this mean? Well millennials get quite defensive as a generation when they are labelled as entitled, lazy or impatient. These stereotypical attributes have been perpetuated by the media. Ask a Gen Y/Millennial how they see these labels and they say that they feel many long time employees act ‘entitled’ based on tenure not on performance. Gen Y’s see laziness in some of their co-workers unwillingness to learn new skills or do things in a better way. In regards to impatience Gen Y’s/Millennials say that if they are performing above standard isn’t it good to then want to progress? The future of work will NOT be about ‘managing millennials’ rather it will be a workplace where ‘everyone is a leader’ and team leadership will be the norm. Millennials are driving this as they came up in a school environment where leaders were among the team and some people would lead one portion of a project and others would lead another portion.
  3. Give the millennial generation the top of the technology tools and they will give you fast results, enthusiasm about their work and loyalty. Research by PWC on millennials states that 41% of millennials would rather use technology than pick up the phone or communicate face to face. They see the future of work where communication is leveraged through technology. The report goes on to state that the focus technology can create inter generational conflict in the workplace as traditional employees see higher value in phone calls or face to face meetings. Millennials don’t see the value of these methods from an efficiency perspective. They DO want to talk or meet IF there is a fun aspect, if there is a big purpose for the gathering and if there is something in that phone call or meeting that will help them do their job better or faster. The  leveraging of technology by millennials is rapidly influencing business and the future of work will have a greater focus on ‘connection’ that includes using technology, face to face and voice communication. We will continue to see the inter generational conflicts as we head to 2020 primarily because of the rapid pace of change and individuals adapt to change in their own way.


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