Moving America Forward

Millennials: Changing The Look and Feel of the Workforce

June 13, 2014
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Millennials: Changing The Look and Feel of the Workforce
Millennials are changing workplace culture. Getty Images
The newest generation has different ideas about what they want from an employer and from companies that they make purchases from.

Although the world did not end at the start of the new century, the new generation that emerged with it is giving the world a little shake.

Only 14 years in and their impact is already being felt with changes in politics and consumerism. This generation played a large role in electing the first black president and redefined how music is bought and sold. With the millennials becoming 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, America is only just beginning to hear their voice and needs to be prepared to adjust to their differing lifestyle.

The Brookings Institution recently conducted a study exploring the preferences and behaviors of the millennials. Their results showed that the business world will receive a shake up when these workers enter the workforce.

Already, their tastes indicate a swerve from the established norms, and fast food will be one of the first industries to feel this transition. For the past 60 years, Burger King and McDonalds maintained a stronghold over the tastes of consumers. But this will change as millennials have opted for different chains, such as Chipotle, Sweetgreen and Panera Bread.

Consumer preferences will further change as millennials will look for more than just a good bargain in their shopping. Social causes and innovation are important as well, making millennials more inclined to shop at places that are also involved in such activities.

Finances will be impacted due to this generation’s general distrust of big banks. When asked which banks with whom they would least like to do business, many of the biggest financial institutions in the country were named — including Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup, which is not a positive sign for the banking world.

Similar to where they will shop, millennials will prefer to work for a company that will have an impact on the world. At the top of the list was St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, followed by the State Department at number 12, the NSA at number 17, the FBI, the CIA, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon.

What can and should businesses learn from this study? First, they need to develop a more social and worldly view with regards to how they conduct business. (The shoe company TOMS exemplifies this in their policy of donating one pair of shoes to a child in need for every shoe purchased.) Second, companies will need to adapt their style of employee motivation. The age of big profits as a motivator is not as prevalent and is being replaced by social impact. More personal and individual contact is important as well, shown through PricewaterhouseCoopers’ decision to replace annual performance reviews with more frequent feedback.

Social impact and a personal touch are the big indicators of this new generation. America may have 11 more years before the millennials completely dominate the workforce, but it’s in the country’s best interest to start paving the way for their integration now.

MORE: Why Millennials Are Taking Big Pay Cuts to Work at Small Companies

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