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These Millennial trends in the workplace affect all of us.

Millennials now represent 34 percent of the workforce, edging out both Generation X and the throngs of retirement-focused Baby Boomers. By 2020, they are expected to represent almost half (46 percent) of the workplace. As a result, Millennials are changing the way business is done and redefining workplace culture at the same time.

Technology and the need to conduct business across multiple time zones has made working from home and flexible hours more possible than ever. Millennials not only prefer that work style; they often request it, along with more relaxed dress codes, collaborative work environments, and flat workplace hierarchies. They shun busy work, hate the idea of working in silos, and see little reason to treat their boss, or even their boss’ boss, any differently than they treat the co-worker in the next cubicle.

“It almost has to happen,” Dr. Fuller adds. “Millennials will choose the workplace that allows them to work on a team and feel like they’re part of something more meaningful than ROI and profit margins.

“Why put in eight hours, if you can complete a project just as efficiently in three?” they ask. In many offices, particularly those still run by Baby Boomers who have spent careers filling out time cards and, in some industries, punching time clocks, the generational divide is particularly evident.

Measuring success

“This generation has watched their Boomer grandparents work 60-hour weeks, only to ultimately lose their jobs and their pensions,” says retired Professor of Business Psychology, Connie Fuller. “Millennials want a different life for themselves. Their success is not measured in dollars and cents.”

While the current office mindset is very bottom-line focused, she believes Millennials will lead the shift toward a work culture that is more focused on relationship building and developing employees to reach their full potential.

“It almost has to happen,” Dr. Fuller adds. “Millennials will choose the workplace that allows them to work on a team and feel like they’re part of something more meaningful than ROI and profit margins. That, by definition, will help bring the workplace back into balance.”

Development opportunities are, in fact, a higher priority than salary when Millennials are job-hunting, PricewaterhouseCoopers found when surveying more than 4,000 members of the generation for their report, “Millennials at Work: Reshaping the Workplace.”

And while some in the older generations might see that as more evidence of stereotypically helicoptered Millennial childhoods carrying into adult life, Dr. Fuller is more positive.

Young workers today are also demanding more frequent and more specific evaluation, much like the red-pen scrawls on college term papers that left little doubt about how they were doing and what needed improvement. This need for constant feedback has begun to change the face of performance reviews in some companies. The practice of offering an initial sit-down evaluation meeting at the end of a six-month probationary period, followed by annual reviews, is gradually being replaced by performance management systems that provide more immediate, specific, and continuous feedback.

Generation of rubrics

Washington D.C. Campus Dean Heather Sheets confirms this, referring to Millennials as “the generation of rubrics.” They insist on knowing ahead of time exactly what they’re going to be graded on—what counts and what doesn’t.

And while some in the older generations might see that as more evidence of stereotypically helicoptered Millennial childhoods carrying into adult life, Dr. Fuller is more positive.

“This generation wants to know right away if they did something right and how they should be doing it differently or better,” she says. “They are trying to be better employees and long term, that’s good for business.”

As the first generation to grow up with the internet, they also know how to harness the power of social media and crowdsourcing for the greater good, whether it be to solicit investors for a startup or raise funds for a favorite cause.

They see the world as an interconnected network of communities and are eager to find their place in making those communities stronger, safer, and more just.

“They don’t like being at a job for a year and still not understanding the impact they’re having,” says Dr. Fuller. “If an employer isn’t giving them what they want or doesn’t share their values, they have no qualms about leaving to find a better fit.

Millennial mantra

Meanwhile, work-life balance has become the Millennial mantra (ranking second in priority in the PricewaterhouseCoopers survey—less important than professional development and more important than salary). Time spent on the job represents just a single piece of the puzzle that comprises their day. There needs to be time for recreation, community service, family, and friends.

“While there are always exceptions, the Millennials I have observed at The Chicago School and elsewhere are more altruistic than previous generations. They seek happiness over money, and are not as competitive in terms of material goods as previous generations have been,” Dr. Fuller adds. “They are more collaborative and seem to focus on the greatest good for the most people. Because of those things, I do believe they can make the world a better place than it has been for quite a while.”

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