Every generation has its own claim to fame. Baby boomers repopulated the planet, Generation X invented slacker culture and now millennials, well, how long do you have? 

Few generations have been the subject of as many thinkpieces, surveys and generational discussion, and for two good reasons: 

  1. The millennial generation has a different approach when it comes to work expectations and career progression.
  2. The ageing population means there are now five generations in the workforce, with millennials on the cusp of taking over management positions. 

The world of work is changing, and many of the evolutions taking place favour millennials and other generations that also grew up with technology. So, what challenges does this group of people bring to employers?

They're sceptical of bigger businesses

Deloitte found that 86 per cent of millennials believe businesses have a responsibility that goes beyond simply making money for the sake of profit. Instead, they see the financial success of larger businesses as a chance to give back to the community, such as by supporting charities or giving employees the chance to take days off for volunteer work.

Unfortunately, Deloitte found there's a sizable gap between millennial expectations and the reality facing this generation, with just 13 per cent saying their organisation's work to mitigate the damage of big-picture concerns like income inequality and climate change is making a difference. 

Acknowledging this point is essential for managers looking to attract and retain millennial talent. The more your business does for the community it operates in, the more excited these people will be to jump on board. 

How do you get multiple generations to work together?How do you get multiple generations to work together?

They need goals to aim for 

Millennials are impatient, a quality that's often mentioned as a negative, but is it really that bad? For companies suffering from endless turnover as young workers disappear on OEs and off to other opportunities, they will seem like a disloyal bunch. The reality is that they just need goals to set their sights on, and have no problem heading elsewhere to satisfy that need. 

In a global millennial survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the firm described millennials as ambitious and keen to move up the ranks in the organisations they work for. Managers who can provide clear career progression frameworks and regular options for upskilling and career development stand the best chance of creating an environment where these people can thrive. 

However, employers are going to have tough standards to live up to. PwC listed Apple and Google as the type of organisation millennials look up to. That doesn't mean you have to be a multinational, game-changing tech company to have a hope of keeping your millennial talent, just that you need to understand what these companies do so well: create a strong brand and relatable purpose that people connect with. 

Understand the bigger picture

Of course, millennials on their own aren't the only concern to keep in mind: how they integrate with other generations has a significant effect on the way a company operates too. According to motivation solutions provider Maritz, 2020 is the year everything changes. Probably. By then, up to half of the world's workforce will be comprised of millennials, but due to the ageing population, they'll be sharing jobs with up to four other generations. 

Could 2020 be the year everything changes?

The key for managers is to understand the motivations of each generation. For example, baby boomers are beginning to retire, leading many to seek stability in their final years in the workforce. On the other hand, millennials are getting to the position where they can shape what the world of work looks like both for them and the following generations. This is leading many to focus on the value flexible working has, and how technology can create a more efficient, interesting and innovative workplace.

No matter where you sit on the generational ladder, a commitment to ongoing training and development will shape your career and that of people around you. To find out more about how to grow with your workforce, get in touch with the team at Artisan Consulting.