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Millennials are receiving intense disapproval for the massive transformations that are taking place in contemporary work environments. These criticisms are primarily coming from the older generations because the workplace has undergone massive changes in the past two decades. For instance, the shift from a focus on customers to a focus on the welfare of employees has become the major determinant of the implementation of business strategies. Today, an employee’s main goal is to work in a favorable work environment rather than getting promotions that support their career development.
In that regard, the millennials have been described as revolutionaries who are rewriting policy and transforming the workplace. In the United States, working has morphed into an obsession that involves working long hours and striving for promotions. As a result, employees are experiencing unhappiness and work burnout, and gender inequity has become widespread. However, younger workers are resisting the status quo by trying to build more flexible careers that create time for their families and other endeavors.
Flexibility and Autonomy
An important aspect of the workplace culture that millennials are changing is work flexibility. As mentioned earlier, working in today’s society has become an obsession that involves working long hours and spending a lot of time on career development. Younger employees are resisting this culture by demanding more flexible work hours that give them time to take care of family matters (Thompson par. 5). For instance, they are asking for vacations, time for physical exercise, and paid leave whenever they welcome a baby (Miller and Yar, par. 4). In addition, they want to be empowered so that they can work remotely without necessarily going to their offices.
The technological advancements taking place have transformed work and personal life. Therefore, the younger employees are feeling tied to a single place, devoid of the freedom that technology offers in other facets of their lives (Kurter par. 10). Opponents of the work culture that the millennials are advocating for have described them as entitled and lazy. However, many people argue that the demands arise from a deeper understanding of the role that work should play in life. They believe that this could end up transforming the workplace for the better.
Many companies are reluctant to implement policies that support the creation of a flexible work environment. Older employees argue that the new generation needs to struggle like they did so that they can appreciate the value of hard work and overcoming obstacles. Employers support this idea because having workers who are always available promotes the attainment of organizational success. Some critics argue that companies that offer more flexibility are compelled to do so by low rates of unemployment and the pressure created by competition for highly qualified employees (Miller and Yar, par. 5).
Without great talent, an organization might suffer greatly during an economic recession. Therefore, corporations use incentives like more flexibility and working remotely to attract and retain talented individuals. The workplace culture might change to favor the millennials because large companies like Walmart and Apple have joined the discussions that propose the prioritization of employees over shareholders (Miller and Yar, par. 7). Young people are increasingly ascending to management positions, and demands for better working conditions are on the rise. These factors could mount so much pressure that companies will be compelled to change.
Many millennials have proven that the old model of a 9-5 job is not effective today as they can fulfill their responsibilities more effectively from home. This has been prompted by the realization that work is not a place but a responsibility that can be fulfilled from any location (Miller and Yar, par. 7). The major goal is to have a job that fits with the workers’ daily lives. In that regard, many companies are changing their approach to employee treatment by offering sabbaticals, creating meditation rooms at work, giving free vacations and paid family leave, and creating time for physical exercise.
A survey conducted by Harvard Business School and Boston Consulting Group revealed the degree to which the changes are needed. The review involved 11,000 employees and 6,500 leaders. Important issues that arose included the need for more flexibility, the freedom to work remotely, autonomy, and enhanced work-life balance (Miller and Yar, par. 11). One of the reasons for these changes is technology, which has made it easier for people to communicate.
Marriage timelines have changed, too, as younger people are marrying later in life when their careers are more demanding. Therefore, they have sufficient reasons to ask for more flexibility in order to take care of their young families. Moreover, the majority of them have an additional responsibility of taking care of their aged parents. The modern workplace is characterized by a highly diverse workforce that is mainly comprised of young people who are socially and technologically aware (Miller and Yar, par. 12).
In addition, many of them do not want to undergo the same struggle their parents underwent with inflexible and unstable jobs. Many employees work long hours out of necessity and not free choice. Recruiters have said that younger employees prioritize flexibility and the freedom to work remotely overpay (Miller and Yar, par. 13). To many of them, it is nonnegotiable because they assume it is part of the employment package. A survey by Werk revealed that older employees also want flexibility. However, they are less likely to receive it because they do not make demands to their employers.
The incorporation of advanced technologies in business processes has been projected to change the workplace culture significantly in the coming years. For example, the tools that people use will change, and innovation will become a necessity. It is estimated that by 2020, approximately 50% of the American labor force will be comprised of millennials. Another forecast shows that the global percentage will increase to 75 by 2025 (Economy par. 1). Ernst &Young and Accenture have released reports in the past that estimate the composition at two-thirds of the entire workforce (Economy par. 1). The baby boomer generation is gradually being eliminated from the workplace. Therefore, changes are bound to happen.
A key change that is expected to happen is the use of more technology at work. Millennials grew up handling different technologies and using them to perform various functions. For instance, they use mobile applications and innovative platforms to communicate, socialize and learn. They are more technology-aware than the older generations. As younger employees take managerial positions in organizations, it is expected that companies will invest in technology to enhance efficiency and cut costs (Kurter par. 13).
For example, in-person meetings are likely to be replaced by video conferencing as more employees demand the freedom to work remotely (Economy par. 3). A study conducted by Cisco involving millennial executives revealed that 87 percent believe that the use of video applications has positive outcomes in organizations (Economy par. 3). Technologies such as email and messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Skype, and Gchat are becoming more popular. Their incorporation into modern workplaces is likely to result in less face-to-face communication (Economy par. 3).
It is a common practice in certain companies to conduct interviews using applications such as Skype. Opponents of the millennial revolution have warned that this emerging culture could be detrimental to organizations. The loss of personal touch within companies could lead to poor communication and the misinterpretation of messages.
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The technology revolution is taking over workplaces around the globe. In that regard, organizations are leaving behind traditional methods of communicating and storing information and focusing on innovative systems that are faster and more efficient. Millennials are open-minded, flexible, and ready to embrace inventions that enhance their efficiency at work (Thompson par. 9). Innovation is a necessity because it helps in developing new techniques for doing certain tasks and automating processes.
The application of technology in streamlining business operations and eradicating redundancy is expected to be one of the key features of the millennial revolution that is changing workplaces. It is important for companies to embrace technology because it saves time and money, facilitates the globalization of business operations, and creates pleasant experiences for clients and employees (Thompson par. 11). Moreover, it aids in the development of employees’ skill sets, and as a result, provides a competitive advantage from the attraction and retention of top talent.
Collaboration is one of the characteristics that will define the new workplace culture. Technology has allowed the younger workers to be more connected and achieve more in shorter periods of time. The use of social platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Skype allows them to connect and work together with other people around the world (Yurkschatt, par. 4). Millennials have been described as the collaboration generation because of the widespread use of technology to communicate and work (Thompson par. 7).
Collaboration is changing because people are moving from the traditional passive meetings approach to the use of technology to enhance creativity and innovation. The millennial workforce has fully embraced collaboration, and its exclusion from their work will force them to create their own rules or leave in search of better work environments (Yurkschatt, par. 6). The emergence of mobile technology has made cooperation between employees easier because of the connectivity available to people in different geographical locations. It has made it possible for people to share information in real-time, including text, pictures, and videos, thus enhancing collaboration. Millennials want to use tools that provide spatial experiences, which are a direct reflection of their interactions and patterns of thinking (Thompson par. 16).
In that regard, it is necessary for organizations to create corporate cultures that promote teamwork among employees (Economy par. 4). Collaboration is only effective if a company’s culture supports it and provides the necessary tools for its embracement. The use of technology to innovate and share ideas will be the hallmark of the new workplace culture that employees are advocating for (Economy par. 4).
A study done by IdeaPoint revealed that 74 percent of younger employees like working in small groups, while 38 percent believe that a company’s innovation efforts are damaged by the implementation of obsolete collaboration processes (Economy par. 5). Many companies have embraced this idea by creating open office layouts that encourage employees to interact freely, consult each other, and share ideas.
Millennials have a different view of an ideal workplace from that of older employees. As a result, they come into organizations with certain expectations that they anticipate to be met by their employers. Many companies are giving in to their demands and adopting new methods of recruiting, motivating, and retaining highly qualified people (Yurkschatt par. 5). It is important for organizations to prepare and adjust their policies accordingly in order to be able to cater to the needs of the new generation of workers. In that regard, leadership that is characterized by authenticity, transparency, and constant development is inevitable (Yurkschatt par. 5).
Transparent leadership is one of the qualities that younger employees look for before joining an organization. As they increasingly take up senior positions in companies, transparency and authenticity are likely to become core organizational values (Kurter par. 8). Today’s political and business environments are awash with leaders who make promises that they do not keep. Millennials are fed up with these types of individuals because they are more concerned with personal gains than the welfare of their juniors and service to humanity (Yurkschatt par. 5). Integrity will be one of the key traits of leaders in the workplaces of the future.
The younger employees also want leaders who recognize and reward them for their efforts, develop them as leaders, and provide timely feedback. An increased focus on connectedness and communication has given rise to a need for rewards and instant gratification (Yurkschatt par. 7). They want to be recognized and appreciated for completing tasks and attaining goals. Moreover, they want to be given feedback either on a regular basis or in real-time in order to make changes and improve their work. In that regard, annual performance reviews are likely to be eliminated because millennials are unwilling to wait until they are conducted to receive responses from the management teams (Yurkschatt par. 7).
Moreover, they want their leaders to communicate their expectations of them from the beginning. Leadership development is also emerging as an important aspect of an ideal modern workplace. Leaders should offer programs that develop the leadership skills of their employees. Examples of such programs include career coaching, mentorship, and rotational assignments (Yurkschatt par. 9). They offer instruction through experience and not traditional training that does not supply any skill sets.
The modern work environment is rapidly changing as more millennials enter the workforce and take leadership roles. In addition, as members of Generation X and the baby boomers retire from their jobs, changes are likely to occur with regard to the workplace culture. Millennials are unwilling to undergo the same struggles of unstable and inflexible jobs that their parents endured. Therefore, they are advocating for more flexible work environments that have effective leadership, embrace innovation, and that allows them to work remotely. Flexibility and technology will be the major defining traits of modern workplaces that will be dominated by young employees.
Multinational corporations such as Apple and Walmart have joined the conversation regarding the prioritization of employee welfare instead of shareholders’ interests. It is important for organizations to implement changes that will make them better prepared to handle the demands of a younger workforce that is more socially and technologically savvy than the older generations.
Economy, Peter. “The (Millennial) Workplace of the Future is Almost Here: These 3 Things Are About to Change Big Time.” Inc.. 2019. Web.
Kurter, Heidi Lynne. “5 Ways Millennials Are Shaking Up the Workforce from the Bottom Up.” Forbes. Web.
Miller, Claire Cain, & Yar, Sanam. Young people are going to save us from office life. New York Times. 2019. Web.
Thompson, Rachel. “Millennials Aren’t Entitled. It’s Employers that Need to Change.” Mashable, 2018. Web.
Yurkschatt, John. “How Millennials are Changing the Workplace.” Direct Recruiters Inc. Web.