How millennial work habits fuel enterprise success (really!)

millennial workplace DXC Blogs

Regarding millennials, the typical advice for enterprise leaders often has a slightly patronizing air to it. Younger workers, it seems, are children to be tolerated and even indulged:

“If you don’t allow millennial workers to use the digital tools of their choice on the job, they will become unhappy and unproductive.” (Cynical Subtext: You have to let them play with their own toys or they’ll get cranky and uncooperative.)

“Millennials demand ‘flexible’ schedules and prioritize work-life balance.” (CS: They’re not very committed to their jobs.)

“Millennials crave immediate encouragement and feedback.” (CS: They’re snowflakes.)

The thing is, looking at just the three examples above, millennial attitudes and expectations for the workplace are not only grounded in reality, they are a healthy response to outdated workplace practices that no longer make sense (if they ever did).

Let’s take the first item: The desire among millennials to use the technology of their choice isn’t rooted in petulance and narrow-mindedness. Rather, it’s based on their positive experiences with personal devices and apps, plus a strong motivation to do their jobs well and efficiently. They can’t do this with ancient phone systems, non-existent collaboration tools or bulky desktop computers still running Windows Vista. Why don’t you just hand them an abacus while you’re at it?

Then there’s schedule flexibility and work-life balance. Unbridled solipsism, right? No! Millennials are absolutely right about this topic. Mobile technology, wireless and cloud computing enable people to work anywhere at any time. Why shouldn’t we take advantage of that? Employers who demand that everybody be in the office at specific times and that employees put their work responsibilities ahead of all else are undercutting themselves by reducing productivity and driving away talent.

I’m no millennial (far from it), but having not worked in an office since before Facebook, I can tell you — life outside the cubicle is great! I eliminate the wasted time and expense of a commute, allowing me to be more productive and have more personal time. Plus no one steals my lunch from the office refrigerator. Or my abacus from my desk.

And now to the need for frequent encouragement, feedback and two-way communication: I’d say these are infinitely superior to annual reviews and one-way communication. Routine encouragement and feedback help keep people connected, motivated and inspired to succeed, while two-way communication can be the catalyst for new ideas that can transform a business. That sounds a lot better than worrying for months about where you stand with the boss, which is exactly the type of anxiety than can cripple productivity and morale.

Frankly, I’d say the workplace — and the fortunes of most businesses — would benefit from a lot more millennial attitudes and work habits.

How are millennials impacting your enterprise?

RELATED LINKS

What millennials bring to – and gain from – a career in public sector

Will Millennial values and new technologies doom the 40-hour work week?

Is your workplace millennialized?

Comments

  1. John Chevalier says:

    Interesting point by @ChrisNerney regarding Millennial work habits driving the overall need for change in the workplace. Another way to frame this conversation is not so much dealing with “Millennial” attitudes & expectations, but with “Perennial” attitudes & expectations. Leadership discussions on how to deal with generational segmentations within the workplace are divisive and miss the bigger picture of what’s needed in bringing out the best in ALL individuals for which we have stewardship. #PerennialVsGenerational #Perennials https://lnkd.in/eiECYym.

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  5. […] this year, Chris Nerney wrote a blog about how some of these perceived negative work habits  can actually fuel enterprise success. Now let’s take that further and look at some of the questions organisations need to start asking […]

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