Recently, I saw an article from one of the "Big 4" accounting firms on what Millennials want in the workplace and what we (as employers) should do to satisfy their requirements. The article, from memory, went on to say that Millennials had much to teach us about work-life balance.
The whole thing raised my curiosity because as I read through the things Millennials are demanding, such as "flexible work hours" , "contributing to causes" and "salary is less important than career progression" among others, I got to thinking that is not too far removed from what I wanted when I started out in the 90s. What has changed is society and how we organise ourselves for work together with questioning of traditional models of business. Just as we now don't consult things like microfiche and books for information because technology has changed forever how we gather information, so too has the hierarchical construct of business organisation come in for challenge.
And, if we are all completely honest about it, this challenging of traditional business constructs has been under way for many years now. Millennials are the next cab off the rank in terms of the growing workforce population and, naturally, they are where the attention is being directed. They also understand better than their elders how to live with and leverage technology and transact with it - so it behoves businesses to harness this group effectively (lest you wake up one day and have no one interested in working for you).
It was so different for me and other Gen Xers. The structures in place when we started out into work were set in concrete and pretty much unchallengeable - and it made for what were (at times) pretty turgid work environments. Little wonder that we spent much of our free time in the Grunge scene.
There is not enough room here to explore or argue the changes which are occurring around us with speed and consequence. However, from what I have read and observed, the changes required to cater for Millenials are both appropriate and necessary given the times we are in. The requirement for business to be flexible and malleable will only increase as customers require this, so it follows that business structures will respond and change.
What I think managers and business owners need to do is be aware of the changes that are coming and already evident in the changing nature of the workforce. In the end we will be successful if we hire and retain the best people. They will be the ones who are right for our business and its customers but most of all they will be the ones who understand the environment in which our businesses operate and evolve in.