As the millennial workforce grows they’re set to rapidly change the way we work.
Look around your office. Age-wise, chances are your workforce has never been more diverse. You’ve been hearing about the rise of the millennial workforce everywhere you turn, haven’t you? And to be fair, you’re probably a bit sick of it.
Well, we’re only going to hear more. In the US, the US Bureau of Labour Statistics predicts that millennials will make up approximately 75 per cent of the workforce by 2030, and Australia’s not far behind.
So why does this insight matter? Above all the babble and millennial workforce generalisations (that they’re technologically adept, prepared to change jobs frequently and will invest if they feel a meaningful connection with their work), the fact is that many millennial-driven workplace trends simply use the ‘M word’ as shorthand for changes that are happening for a variety of reasons. Technology and the way we think about work are changing as society changes.
It’s worth noting that the Harvard Business Review published a study this month that argues many of the stereotypes we ascribe to the millennial workforce apply to most age groups For example, it’s a common assumption that young people are most likely to invest in new skills. However the HBR survey showed that while a higher proportion of of those aged 18-30 (91 per cent) and 31-45 (72 per cent) felt they were investing in new skills, after the age of 45 almost 60 per cent said they were actively learning new skills.
In short, across all age groups, there’s a “growing interest in the tools to cope with a longer working life in an age of profound technological disruption.”
What are some ‘millennial trends’ that are spreading to other generations?
And how can you factor this into future workforce planning?
1. Internal communication tools will trump email
More than 40 per cent of millennials say they prefer to communicate electronically at work rather than face to face, and it’s a sign that, increasingly, we’re harnessing technology to make our work more productive – not less. Millennials like this strategist at Pricewaterhouse Cooper are innovating with new ways to cut down on face time in the office; and the rise in the popularity of apps like Slack, Facebook Workplace and custom company systems offer management an opportunity to re-frame the costs and benefits of social technology in the workplace.
2. Leadership hierarchies will flatten
The millennial workforce is known for wanting to see where they are going (and don’t want to climb just one ladder). Now that traditional promotion structures have been dismantled, workers of all ages want to use HR’s wide-lens knowledge of an organisation to explore opportunities and diversify their skills along the way.
3. Millennials get HR and want to work with them
As more administrative tasks are being handled through self-service tools, team members are beginning to see HR professionals in a different way, says Joe Hill, HR manager at SanDisk and millennial.
“Today [HR are] seen as collaborators and facilitators of social engagement and career development.”
Along with a more positive attitude towards HR in general, Hill argues that millennials are set to be HR’s biggest cheerleaders. In areas such as culture change and performance management, he suggests we will see increased support for HR from the next generation of millennial leaders.