Can you keep pace with the evolving workforce?

Written by
Samantha Clarke

26 Jan 2016

26 Jan 2016 • by Samantha Clarke

Millennials want a lifestyle, not just a job

Attracting the best of these workers will be critical to the success of your business. Their career aspirations, attitudes about work, and knowledge of new technologies will define the culture of the 21st century workplace.

Millennials matter because they are not only different from those that have gone before, they are also more numerous than the soon-to-retire Baby Boomer generation. By 2020, millennials will form 50% of the global workforce, with this in mind it pays to identify how to attract and keep this powerful group of workers.

Below are several key factors to consider...

Personal and Professional Development 

The future of work is no longer about how long you work and where you work but about what you do at work. Young professionals thrive under hands-on experience that gives them a seat at the table and a voice. Companies should allow individuals to shape and self-direct their own careers to take advantage of their entrepreneurial drive to develop them as talented leaders.  It's about putting the company agenda to one side and identifying 'who does the individual want to become' and how can we facilitate this effectively. Rapid progression is a key expectation for millennials and their desire to keep learning and progress through a company means that they can just as easily move on if their expectations are not being met.
Variety and autonomy breeds passionate and actively engaged people. Nothing promotes this more than allowing these individuals the freedom to create a portfolio of skills. Millennials don't want to be pigeonholed into a particular job or department, but instead be able to fluidly move around the organisation soaking up new insights and gravitating towards what natural fits them. 

Communication & Transparency

It’s time to slowly breakdown the hierarchies/silos and encourage transparent and flat organisational structures. Millennials will expect to be more included in things happening around them at work. Companies must create systems and processes to crowdsource information and  promote rich and open debate about anything from current projects, new business and company direction. Collective wisdom should be used to help inform company thinking on a continuous basis. Companies like Buffer have even taken transparency to the next level by sharing company results/individual salaries/KPIs, to give all potential  and existing employees a real guide to what's happening.


It’s important to be aware of intergenerational tensions and how this helps or hinders working relationships. Millennials have grown up with technology at their fingertips so one to one or phone interactions are often less favoured over text based channels.This can be a source of intergenerational conflict so it’s important to create work flows that consider this. Companies should invest in ways to build relationships between generations to make sure that here is an opportunity for mentoring and knowledge share in both directions and coaching to mitigate differences, cross cultural boundaries and achieve group consensus...


This generation is more excited by genuine and authentic outcomes and output, not presenteeism, rigid hours and commuting. Instead flexibility and location independent working are top focal points. Identify how your company can allow for individuals to take part in concepts like Remote Work or Refuga for example which still allow them to continue working but satisfy their strong wanderlust. Alternatively consider how you can reshape your organisation to allow some teams to become remote or agile e.g. DADI+. Remote working is the future and working in this way benefits the company with a more satisfied and productive workforce. It’s about reframing your company thinking to appreciate the real value millennials bring is through their inspired thinking, knowledge and capabilities, rather than their time. 

Life and work integration has never been so important. So more family-friendly policies will become increasingly important. Open holidays also allow for a fluidity to their lives to keep these individuals excited and free to be.

Community Spirit

Millennials are attracted to employer brands that they admire and respect. What are you doing above and beyond your main service offering? Companies should focus on developing a spirit of integrity and an altruistic agenda that indicates they are concerned with more than just profits. Millennial are looking to work for companies that match their own social concerns and values. They want to feel like their presence has a bigger vision and that they are contributing to a wider social purpose. Canvas the key issues from this generation in your company and look at what initiatives you can create around this, be it volunteering events or charity fundraisers. 

Overall it is about treating millennials with mutual respect and appreciation. Alongside this companies should heighten their emotional and relationship intelligence to get the best out of individuals and streamline their processes to avoid unnecessary archaic procedures. Companies must change their mindset away from the idea that an employee is 'owned' by the business or that the business needs should take priority above other personal needs and life experiences. The tables have turned, it’s time to innovate and develop accordingly or expect brain drain to other companies or sectors.