The term millennial is more than a buzz word; it’s a complete culture. Millennials are changing the way things are done, most notably the way we work. As the largest fraction of the U. S. workforce, it’s surprising to see companies resisting the profound impact of millennials. As they continue to change the workforce, here are a few reasons for why these changes are for the better:
Millennials Made It More Productive to Work from Home
Millennials understand that with all the technology we have, being in the office is not always necessary. I’ve scheduled tweets through my phone. I’ve used Facebook’s apps to conduct full-on marketing campaigns while waiting for a movie to start. I’ve booked interviews in an email exchange while on a train. I’ve written blogs from hotel rooms across America – the same types of blogs I’ve written in the office. And if I could have had job interviews over Skype, I’m pretty sure I can attend meetings over FaceTime. Technology has made the office anywhere you want it to be. However, many employers are hesitant to adapt to this change.
I worked for the City where there was a strict policy against working from home; they even invested millions on a program to track people’s work hours (it was called CityTime and it cost millions more when you factor in the corruption countless news sources have reported around the program). You had to clock in and clock out and it created a 9 to 5 culture that becomes a productivity killer. Now, think of how much money would be saved by employers if job performance wasn’t measured by hours worked, but by how much you did during your work day. What a concept.
If I can work from home, I will go above and beyond for my employer, and I have. I feel accountable for my work, but sometimes something happens in the day that takes me away from my computer. I don’t want to lose the perk of working from home, so if I had to step away from 12 to 2 in the afternoon, I will more than likely work an extra three hours at night to make sure the work got done. And sometimes, when there are no office distractions, more work can be accomplished during those three hours.
Millennials Make Work More Efficient
At my last job, I used to joke that we would have meetings to prepare for our meetings. It made no sense that with the availability of email, chat, even workplace social media programs like Yammer, meetings are still considered a necessity. In today’s fast-paced environment, efficiency is key and anyone who has been in a meeting that begins with unnecessary banter, devolves into a contest of one-upmanship, and ends with the decision to schedule a follow-up meeting, knows that meetings can be extremely inefficient.
Let’s break it down further. There are 10 people in a room discussing a topic, but only one person is really talking at a time. When that person is talking, the other 9 people are sitting there listening…many of them waiting for what is being said to apply directly to their function. In turn, those 9 people are not working. In many cases, they are only half-listening. But if there are 10 people on an email chain or using a collaborative work program, the email chain might take a little longer to conclude, but people are working at the same time the topic is being discussed. In addition, when work is conducted over email and a written record is created, the information is all there and can be easily searched if someone forgets something.
Millennials are Eliminating Corporate Hierarchies and Making Work Fun
A former employer did not like that I was friendly with people on all levels, from the woman who cleaned our offices to the secretaries and even top executives. Although it is important to remember your role in a company, being friendly coerces cooperation and teamwork. Here’s a quick example: My supervisor approved my request to have two computer screens so I can work faster using social media. She also approved my request to ask that I trade in my outdated Blackberry for a smartphone with better social media capabilities. Once I had both my requests fulfilled, she was shocked that I had better equipment than her. She hadn’t realized that I was friends with the IT department (I even joined a basketball league with one of its team members) and they worked quickly to meet my needs.
Millennials do not care about titles, statuses or salaries. They just want to get the job done in the most efficient way possible and they want to do so as part of a team. They enjoy the collaborative environment and know that the team is made up of people on all levels. They also want to work for a company that has a great culture because that usually leads to enjoying where you work. If that morning coffee with the cleaning lady makes a valued employee enjoy working for your company, why not make that extra effort? And when people buy donuts, go out to lunch with staff, pass cards around for birthdays or other celebrations, it’s not goofing off, it’s building a team – a team of people who care about where they work and want to see their company succeed.
Millennials Understand the Value of Experience Over Education
I will never forget when a former boss was looking for an executive assistant and disqualified a bunch of people because she didn’t like their education. She completely ignored the rest of their resume. She hired the person she wanted and that person quit six months later because she got a better job that she felt was more in line with her degree. The hiring process started all over again, which cost the company money, and all because she had pre-conceived notions about people based on their education. I was completely unsure why she had even hired me.
I’m a kid from the Bronx who learned just as much hanging out in Morris Park as I did in the classroom. I grew up broke, working at a Carvel to pay my college education, but when I graduated, I did not have student debt and I’m doing pretty well for myself. I credit my work ethic to my achievements on the basketball court. I would lose to the same person over and over and all it did was make me work that much harder until I was able to beat that person consistently so that there was no doubt who the better player was. I take the same approach at work. I pay attention to the staff member everyone thinks works hardest and then do all I can to hustle harder than them. And, having to overcome more obstacles than those who were considered better educated than myself, I have become well adept at employing outside-the-box thinking to achieve results.
I like to hire people who offer the same work ethic. When I was working at my last job and was interviewing candidates for a Deputy Director of Public Affairs, I ignored the robots who checked off all the right buttons during the interview and went with someone who offered compelling, unscripted examples of the work she performed for previous employers. Startups, predominantly made up of millennials, take the same approach. Unlike bigger companies that filter resumes based on education, startups are looking at your results and see more value in what you have achieved than the classes you took.
We are growing in a new world. It’s time to stop fighting the future and accept that millennials are singlehandedly taking the workforce to a new level. You can’t fight change, but you can get left behind in its dust if you don’t embrace it.
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