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Be the Change Your Millennial Workforce Needs

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With the arrival of 2017, one thing is becoming clear now more than ever: the world is changing, and it’s changing fast. Let’s run through what we know. We know that  customer relationships are changing, people are rating businesses on Yelp in real-time, and customers are being sent NPS surveys all the time. There is a big focus on knowing what is important to the customer in real-time. However, very few businesses try and incorporate these practices when trying to know their biggest investment, their people! But, the workplace is changing fast with the rise of millennials. But what do we know about millennials, and how they are changing the world?

Today, more than one third of all US employees are millennials, or those born from 1982-2002. And if that number does not either surprise you, please you, or scare you, then maybe this will: By 2025, in just eight short years (that’s two presidential terms, two summer olympics, and two leap years), millennials will make up a solid 75% of that workforce. “We should engage the millennial generation,” is one of the largest understatements any business executive can make. This year, your business must engage millennials, because they are the future, and the future is coming very, very fast.

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The hotly anticipated Deloitte study confirms some key trends we have observed about the millennial generation.

First, it found that millennials in developed countries are more pessimistic than are those in emerging markets. According to a report by Pew Research, “most of those surveyed in richer nations think children in their country will be worse off financially than their parents...in contrast, emerging and developing nations are more optimistic that the next generation will have a higher standard of living.” The main takeaway is this: your company is already dealing with a pessimistic generation, so in order to encourage productivity and job satisfaction, your leadership must go the extra mile. So a critical part is to check-in with them more often, earn and understand what drives them, and to react in a proactive way.

Second, the Deloitte study discovered that this generation is more loyal to employers than they were a year ago; in a period of uncertainty, stability and consistency is prioritized. Millennials are becoming increasingly less inclined to do freelance work, and they are starting to value careers that  are steady, reliable, and yes, enjoyable. They are becoming less focused on short term gratification; as millennials age they become more focused on the long term implications of lifestyle choices. To retain and attract employees, be sure to offer them transparency, flexibility, and opportunities for growth.

Third, the study found that millennials do not view companies as doing their best to fix societal ills; this ties into the earlier finding of pessimism in first world countries. This generation typically believes that corporations should be doing more in terms of corporate social responsibility and employee engagement. Your company can really empower them by providing them with larger responsibilities and by putting them in the driver's seat when it comes to change.

Although millennials were not pleased with the level of societal progress businesses were making, Deloitte did conclude that companies were progressively providing workforces with more and more ways to make social impact by associating them with “good causes.” This room for opportunity creates a mutual trust between leaders and workers, which in turn results in higher performance and fealty.

Lastly, the study found that millennials either see automation, or the use of largely automatic equipment in the workplace, as a threat to jobs or as a way to develop new skills and creative thinking. More than before, however, they are thinking of it as an opportunity. For instance, they see continuous asking of their feedback online or via mobile as a beneficial replacement to the annual, lengthy, year-end survey.

The Deloitte study opens with this John F. Kennedy quote: “The future promise of any nation can be directly measured by the present prospects of its youth.” With millennials comprising such a large percentage of the workforce, and with this number growing, your company’s interaction with this generation at this present moment will make all the difference in retention, satisfaction, and productivity. In order to optimize your outcomes, you must invest time, attention, resources, and hope into this pivotal generation.