Millennials Challenge Workplace Standards, Attitudes

Posted By Mila Sanchez on December 7, 2016 at 9:05 am
Millennials Challenge Workplace Standards, Attitudes

Millennials continue to be a big topic of discussion when it comes to business. As the most recent generation entering the workforce, it’s obvious why. They are changing the workplace in many different ways, arguably for the better. James Goodnow, a millennial lawyer at Fennemore Craig PC, says, “Millennials are challenging traditional notions of what makes a successful business at every level of the organization. The traditional business model that worked for so long simply does not resonate with most millennials.”

It’s true that the traditional business model is no longer working for the new working generation. Generation Z and millennials are joining forces to shape how companies are run. Members of previous generations believed that once they landed a job, they do what is asked without question to move up. Jobs, they thought, entailed working eight hours a day, 40 hours a week and came with benefits and vacation they had to work years to earn.

That scenario does not fly with millennials. Members of the generation are challenging the notion of the traditional work week and company dynamics for the better – demanding positive company culture, flexible working schedules and locations, and changes to long established hierarchy and leadership roles.

It starts with the millennial job search

One of the majors things millennials see differently than the previous generations is how they approach the job search. While in the past, the main focus was to find one as soon as possible, hopefully in the person’s field field, recent job seekers look for much more:

A company with values they admire. An infographic from Washington State University states that many current college grads say they’ll accept lower starting pay to work for an organization that shares their values. These can range from anything to leadership styles, philanthropy, social issues, environmental issues, political stance, and more. Employers should be aware of this and be clear about what the company stands for.

Company culture and work policies. Stephanie Troiano, executive recruiter for, explains, “Millennials are definitely making their impact on workplace policies as Generation Y values work/life balance, a strong, collaborative company culture, and other perks of flexibility that contrast greatly from the generations before them.” She goes on to say, “Company culture is an especially important topic, as employers who wish to retain millennial employees should recognize these values while providing the space, freedom, and autonomy for personal development and growth of their millennial employees.

Gen Y’ers want to work alongside others who share these values as well, and ultimately for an organization that fosters their ability to express themselves as they see fit. This could also mean more freedom in flex work schedules and a greater value placed on work/life balance as millennial employees tend to value their personal and familial relationships not at the expense of work.”

A vital part of the company culture Troiano mentions is the desire to work with others who share their values and foster their abilities. To do this, companies need to be aware of group dynamics in the workplace. Millennials are particularly interested in collaboration and open communication, and they expect mutual respect from leaders. Strong company and team leaders need to understand how different personalities work together, and how to give positive feedback along with constructive criticism to motivate their millennials employees and help them grow. Passive bullying or threats at job security is considered aggressive and disheartening.

Millennials and the challenge of student debt

While company values and culture are things companies can improve for current and future employees, another way organizations are changing recruiting and retention strategies is addressing one of the top worries plaguing millennials – school debt. Millennials have more school debt than any previous generation, and to many, it’s life halting.

So many millennials are putting off life experiences such as starting a family, buying a house, or even saving for their future because of their student loan burden. Mercer, a global consulting company, and other employers are starting to offer student loan refinancing or repayment plans to their benefits packages. Addressing student loans and helping acknowledge financial health is a sure way to let the millennial workforce know that a company cares. More information about student loan refinancing can be found here.

While some view the impacts millennials make on businesses as a problem, others consider it innovation that companies have been needing for a long time. With some of the main ideas of the changes being focused on work-life balance and job satisfaction, these are changes that will not only benefit those new to the workforce but current workers and working generations to come.

Mila Sanchez
Mila Sanchez is a writer with a BA in English Linguistics living in beautiful Boise, ID. Her ambitions include traveling the world, studying languages, and taking pictures of her dog, Baymax.

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