Y Gen Y? This is Y…
Apparently, because we were born between 1981 and 1999, we are millennials. We are also called Generation Y, which makes more sense because when we look at how businesses are structured, we wonder Y?
We are said to be “entitled”, “entrepreneurial”, “impatient”, and “social media savvy”. Employers sense that we have something to give but they don’t understand us:
Why did you show up at 10am?
You want to work from a café?
You think you are ready to lead a team?
Where’s your tie?
If companies could survive without us, many happily would. But they can’t.
By 2025, millennials will represent a staggering 42 percent* of the Australian workforce. Millennials will also be the largest consumer-base for most industries and companies can’t sell to people they don’t understand, so they are compelled to understand us.
Companies ask millennials to manage their social media. They want us to catch customers’ attention and they want us to apply new ideas but still work within the old model.
Millenials question the status quo: this creates friction.
Millennials sense how fast the old model is becoming outdated. Population growth, emerging technologies and environmental change are changing the world faster than ever before. No one knows what the future will look like, but millennials sense the rapid change resulting from our values.
We are embracing the sharing economy and choose to opt out of owning assets, we yearn to introduce mindfulness and co-operation to our jobs. Our generation’s sense for equality already results in large environmental and equal rights legislations. Change is happening but we want it to happen faster. As a result, we are impatient and question the status quo.
Why do I have to work from the office?
Why can’t I do this in a more efficient way?
Why don’t those being led choose who leads them?
Why do I need approval to test out a new idea?
Millennials are strong
As every generation before us, we disrupt and reinvent Australian business culture as soon as we rise above the most junior positions in the workforce. This time around, hierarchies, time sheets, job titles and corner offices will have to go. Anything else that cannot justify ‘Y’ it exists will go, along with them. We grew up with short-term contracts, travelled for our education and started work during the global financial crisis. This reinforced the entrepreneurial nature of us.
We can handle uncertain environments and are willing to step into unexplored territories. These qualities will enable us to develop organisations that will thrive in the sea of change.
And we prefer not to jump ship. When we are emotionally invested we stay loyal to our company. We utilise our social networks to help fulfill the purpose of the company. We collaborate with other corporations to fulfill the project goals and we are extremely flexible. Our flexibility will be crucial in navigating a hyper-networked fast paced age.
Flattening hierarchies and integrating us into inter-generational leadership teams will allow organisations to benefit from millennials’ strengths. Business offering such work environments will attract the smartest, most innovative and most disruptive. And they will thrive.
Business simply offering generous salaries will get stuck with the millennials happy to follow in the footsteps of the previous generations. Such organisations will be unable to disrupt markets, to innovate and to be true market leaders.
We will change the world in collaboration with older generations
The tides of change are rolling in. The momentum created by disruptive technologies, emerging markets and shifting values require business to adapt or die.
Millennials have the pent up energy, when channeled into creative and engaging work, to undertake enormous organisational change. Millennials’ desire to co-operate rather than compete feels like softness to older generations but it will enable us change the business world without demolishing previous successes.
So invest us emotionally and give us the autonomy to pursue work we are passionate about. Provide us with the training, opportunity and feedback necessary to master our skills. Most importantly, ensure the company’s purpose resonates through every aspect of our job.
Together, we can create great intergenerational workplaces in which every generation will thrive.
* KPMG Demographics based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics