Blog: The New Elevated Role of Millennial Employees


What will the modern work environment look like in five years? 10 years?

Imagine a work world similar to one designed 25 years ago by manufacturer Jack Stack in his landmark book, The Great Game of Business, in which employees are financially literate regarding the money aspect of business, they have a stake in the outcome, and they understand the critical number.

Then apply clever phrases from technology startups and Silicon Valley-types like “radical transparency” and “digital nomads,” and you have a work environment centered on communication, transparency, openness, technology, and the results created versus measurable hours at the office.

As new employees enter the workforce, millennials have expectations of employers that are different than their parents, and significantly different than their grandparents. Millennial employees have been raised in the era of social media and the Internet, which provides them with instant answers. Phrases like “just Google it” did not exist 15 years ago.

Employees will expect businesses to communicate more frequently and openly about company performance, funding, leadership moves, and cultural development. Instead of annual speeches or letters from leadership, employees will expect more frequent bursts of information.

They want monthly, sometimes weekly, feedback on their performance. How a company engages with its workforce has become a question candidates are now asking in job interviews.

Employees expect companies to use the latest technology and be committed to improving on that technology on a frequent basis. Technology allows employees to work remotely, which allows employees to work smarter, not harder. Technology also allows managers to focus on the results through better data tracking versus the number of hours an employee is sitting in the office.

In a recent Career Builder survey, CEOs say they are expecting human resource professionals to be able to build and develop innovative business strategies based on data. The report said, “CEOs are looking for HR to be just as data-savvy and digitally-savvy as other areas of the company, and take quick, measurable actions that move the business toward its goals.”

This will require back-office systems that will track data and then require it to be communicated to the senior management and to the employees themselves. How that data will be communicated will change as well.

Consider for a moment that by 2020, 50 percent of the workforce will be millennials. As this workforce moves from the shop or retail floor into management positions, this “new reality” of how people work will become the accepted norm. How they communicate is different compared to a baby boomer or Gen Xer.

They prefer to text or email instead of talk on the phone. Then they can edit or correct the message they would like communicate. They won’t participate in long meetings, preferring quick huddle sessions.

Smart phones will replace desk phones within the next 10 years. Today, the Google office in New York City does not have an office number. Instead, all of its employees have cell phones, making a landline number obsolete.

To build the next generation of worker in a company, employers must figure out what motives them to work and leave the job they currently have. This has changed dramatically with millennials.

According to the recruiting firm Hobson Associates, and its president Danny Cahill, in 1979 the criteria in evaluating a new job opportunity, in order of importance, was:

1. Management potential

2. Promotional Opportunities

3. Benefits

4. Money

In the mind of today’s millennials, they are looking for:

1. Money

2. Flexibility

3. The ability to share ideas

4. Progression in life, not necessarily management

5. Fun

Concerning the “mind of today’s millennial’s,” the millennials who work in my office summed it up that they want to have all of those things, and also want to be appreciated and be in an environment where they can truly make an impact. They want a career that provides all of that. They want to constantly grow in positions, learn more, take on more responsibility, and know that they are trusted to make profitable changes.

As business owners, we will need to understand and adapt to them, not the other way around.

Todd Palmer is founder and president of Troy-based Diversified Industrial Staffing and Diversified PEOple LLC, and is a regular contributor to DBusiness Daily News.​