Like a digital—but no less important—Paul Revere, this blog serves as a wake-up call for those still asleep. The Millennials are coming!
In less than 10 years the Millennial generation (roughly 1980-2000) will have finally all grown up. When this occurs, Millennials will outnumber Baby Boomers by roughly 20%, becoming the country’s and workforce’s majority demographic.
Similar to when one political party controls Congress and only certain legislation passes, the Millennials will have the power to change the established workplace culture. Whether that means relaxing the dress code, restructuring work hours, or shifting workplace ideology, the message is the same: Millennials are coming, workers of all generations should prepare for a culture change.
A September TIME article dives into the issue causing a significant disconnect between the oldest working generation, the Baby Boomers, and the youngest, Millennials: the age divide.
Growing up at a certain time shapes what an individual’s personal worldview eventually becomes, and Boomers and Millennials come from wildly different worlds. Boomers were young for the first televisions and the civil rights era. Millennials were young for the first cell phones that played television and the reelection of the first black president.
Not surprisingly, Millennials have a different expectation when it comes to work. A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers cited in the article finds that while Millennials are committed to their jobs, “they view work as a ‘thing’ and not a ‘place.’” Baby Boomers and Generation X go to work. Millennials go to do work.
The Millennial World View
Millennials view the world a certain way. They prefer relaxed clothes, late nights, and later mornings. Possibly worse, according to the article, in 10 years the Millennial majority may make flip-flops at the office common.
Well, not for all of us. For credit unions and other businesses in the service industry, dress codes are a non-negotiable item; the very thing that exudes professionalism or expertise to the member. Imagine walking into a credit union and seeing a teller wearing flip-flops. No way.
Credit unions face a challenge when attracting Millennial workers: How to strike a balance between the necessary, service-oriented credit union ideology and the progressive millennial attitude?
Flip-flops are out of the question, but what about khaki’s, jeans, or business casual? Maybe not every day, but for many Millennials (myself included), relaxed dress can improve productivity and engagement, especially important considering our perceived likelihood to be lazy and narcissistic. But most businesses, credit unions included, do some form of this already.
If not the dress code, then the idea of a kinetic work schedule is certainly something worth discussing. Millennials no longer believe in working the ol’ 9-5. Work is not a verb, it’s a noun. It has become a tangible thing that one can complete, not a place to be for an arbitrary 8 hour period. Does no work happen before 9 or after 5? Millennials like to both stay up and wake up late, why not take advantage of this and implement later hours at certain branches or call centers and staff them will Millennials. With the increase in hours of operation, members will surely feel a greater convenience.
Companies are beginning to shift ideologies to better sync with Millennials anyway, according to the article. “[Companies] are cutting a deal with this generation to retain the best of them,” the article states. “Maybe it doesn’t matter if a young worker is in the office all day—as long as the job gets done. Maybe it doesn’t matter if they pay attention to everything going on at a meeting—as long as they are up to speed on what they need to perform well.”
Still, some Millennials may resist changing their personal ideologies or habits, making their adjustment to the workforce more difficult. But before Boomers or other generations write them off as lazy or narcissistic, they would be wise to recognize their similarities. Every employed adult understands the opportunity a full-time job provides, especially during uncertain economic times. It’s an opportunity anyone, regardless of generation, would be un-wise to waste.
Millennials come to the office each day with the same goals as anyone else: to get work done, to be productive, and to add value to the business. Adapting Millennials to suit the workplace culture—or vice versa—will be a challenge, but know there is common ground on which to start.