As a dad to three millennial children, I pay attention to the gripes about the generation born between about 1983 and 2000. Do a quick Internet search and you’ll find article after article suggesting (or accusing) the generation of being demanding, difficult to manage and less qualified than they think. Frankly, as the leader of an organization that is hiring thousands of them every year, I can tell you this much: It’s not true.
Deloitte Consulting LLP has done significant research into millennials, both for our own sake and for our clients. And what we’ve learned – and witnessed – is that millennials, as a generation, have traits that are amazing for business.
That’s not to say that there won’t be some bumps in the road.
Millennials don’t think about work the way their baby boomer or generation X parents and colleagues do. It has been well publicized that they don’t like the culture of cubicles and designated workspaces. They don’t value titles. If they fail, they don’t seem too bothered.
They are far more interested in things such as authenticity, individuality and self-expression – not exactly things rewarded in corporate boardrooms, no less break rooms. And when it comes to “fitting into” a company culture, they usually don’t think they have to – they’d rather shape the company culture to fit them.
But that doesn’t make them bad for business. My sense is we have a great opportunity with this generation. What millennials expect and want may make corporations better places to work and stronger organizations.
Here are seven ways any business can profit from the millennial generation:
1. They think of innovation as a science.
Millennials love to tinker and they are incredibly disciplined about innovation.Our 2014 survey found that 60 percent of U.S. millennials say innovation can be learned and repeatable, rather than being spontaneous and random.
2. They believe in the profit motive.
Millennials said that it is acceptable for businesses to make a profit from innovations that benefit society, especially if it’s done ethically and has a positive social impact.
3. They could build a business.
In a Reason magazine survey, 55 percent of millennials say they’d like to start their own business one day and 61 percent say hard work is the key to success. Our own survey showed that roughly 70 percent of millennials see themselves as working independently at some point, rather than being employed within a traditional organizational structure. Capturing that entrepreneurial spirit can energize your business while these future leaders are beginning to build their careers.
4. They’re motivated.
As a generation, millennials have a lot of education and a lot of debt. The Pew Center says that the millennials have higher levels of student loan debt, poverty and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income than the generation Xers and baby boomers at this stage in their lifespans. A generation this hungry to work is a generation that will work very hard.
5. They hate bureaucracy more than you do.
CEOs usually want to build a culture of innovation and risk-taking and get rid of bureaucracy. They’ve got a friend in millennials, who, according to our survey, believe thatthe biggest barriers to innovation are management attitude (63 percent) and operational structures and procedures (61 percent).
6. They will put some muscle into your corporate culture building.
Every company wants a more authentic and stronger brand, especially when it comes to community involvement. But how can you actually achieve it? Hire some millennials, because it matters a lot to them.
According to the Case Foundation, one of the top motivations for millennials to stay with their current jobs was belief in the company’s mission and purpose – a belief that rests on outcomes achieved, not just promises made.
7. They want to lead, and we all need more leaders.
Our survey showed that almost one in four millennials are “asking for a chance” to show their leadership skills. Additionally, 50 percent believe their organizations could do more to develop future leaders. I don’t know an organization anywhere that wouldn’t want to build a stronger cadre of leaders, ready to take on new challenges.
I speak to C-suite leaders on a regular basis, and they speak passionately about their desire to “win the war for talent.” There are going to be many strategies to achieving that outcome, but one thing every business has going for is this: It can recruit its troops from a generation that will give leaders an opportunity to win.