From Baby Boomer to Millennial

Fostering Collaboration in an Intergenerational Workplace

Michael Parrish DuDell
Michael Parrish DuDell is an entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and the bestselling author. He has been ranked as one of the top three most popular business authors by and named “one of nation’s leading Millennial voices” by IBM.

If you’re one of the 120 million full-time workers in America, you may have noticed that the professional landscape looks very different than it did a decade ago. As technology and globalization continue to converge, organizations are hustling to find creative ways to stand out and generate tangible impact. But it isn’t only the game that’s evolving—the players are, too.

Within the next three years, Millennials—those born between 1981-1996—will make up the majority of the workforce. By 2025, that number will rise to 75 percent. What’s more, in the last five years, 87 percent of Millennial workers took on management roles—that’s up 75 percent from the five years prior. Meanwhile members of Generation Z—who today are roughly twenty-years-old and under—are slowly beginning to make their mark.

From hiring and training to growth and development, this new breed of employee is thinking about career in uncharted ways. While much has been written about this cultural shift, perhaps the most important takeaway is the reconceptualization of work in a more fluid, project-based environment. For many, the chasm between personal and professional is beginning to narrow, and the result is a worker who views her job as more than just a paycheck but as a fundamental extension of identity.

A recent study by Capstrat—a leading strategic communications firm—found that 72 percent of Millennial employees are willing to sacrifice a higher salary for a more personally and professionally fulfilling career.

Additionally, a report from Deloitte Global found that 60 percent of Millennials chose to work for their current employer partly because it offers a "sense of purpose.” Not surprisingly, this unique approach to professional success has created a plethora of complications for organizations that are used to abiding by more traditional metrics, set forth by Baby Boomers and Generation X. It’s also creating friction for managers who are being asked to recalibrate in real-time, often resulting in a fractured culture and higher employee turnover.

This, of course, poses a significant challenge for companies of all sizes and can greatly affect the bottom line. Recent estimates suggest that the costs associated with replacing a mid-level employee equate to nearly 150% of the worker’s annual salary.

But where’s there’s challenge, there’s also opportunity.

It used to be that adulthood was the end of all foolish things, like living your dream. But Millennials don’t want financial obligations to stop their pursuit of happiness.
Jeffrey Arnett
Clark University

Meet the Millennial employee

  • There are more than 40 million in the workforce today.
  • They’ll make up more than 75% of the workforce by 2025.
  • The average tenure for a Millennial employee is roughly two years.
  • 87% of Millennial workers took on management roles in the last five years.
  • The average Millennial will have more than seven jobs before she turns 29—a third of which will last less than six months.

The 4 top strategies for fostering change

  1. Prioritize the “why”over the “What”
    “Unlike prior generations, these folks are operating on another order of intrinsic motivation. THEY NEED TO KNOW THE WHY. And they have a sense of purpose in the work they do.”
    Mike McDermen
  2. Start building 360-degree mentorship programs
    72% of Millennials want to be their own boss. But if they do have to work for a boss, 79% would want that boss to serve more as a coach or mentor.
    The Intelligence Group
  3. Embrace flexible work policies
    “Some people scoff at unlimited vacation days, but I could put up a pretty strong fiscal argument that allowing your employees to take unlimited vacation days can save you money as a business and earn you more respect from your employees.”
    Michael Parrish DuDell
    Entrepreneur, keynote speaker, bestselling author
  4. Use tech to improve the feedback process
    In 2016, IBM introduced Checkpoint—a platform that allows people within the company to give feedback to other employees across the organization.

How much influence do the following factors have when you are making decisions at work?

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