Corporate Services
Millennials have already changed the workplace. Here’s how.
Mark Bickford
Mark Bickford
President,
Corporate Services
Sodexo North America

For many years now, we’ve been making conjectures about the impact millennials could have on the workforce as more of them begin their careers. The majority of millennials—those born between about 1980 and the mid-1990s—are now of working age. Their impact on the workplace isn’t just conjecture anymore: It’s here.

Sodexo’s 2017 Workplace Trends Report shows that, as expected, this generation is having a major impact on the way we work today. Our key findings about millennials in the workplace show:

Quality of Life is a top priority.

When asked what they expect from employers, most millennials ranked quality of life as number one. This won’t come as a surprise to employers, many of whom have already started implementing programs to improve quality of life. It’s important to note that, although these quality-of-life programs were created to recruit and retain top millennial talent, they’re boosting engagement for employees of all ages.

One major trend is an increase in flexibility. We’ve seen that millennials respond extremely well to flexibility in the workplace. Technology has made it possible for many organizations, including Sodexo, to offer work-from-home policies or more flexible hours. Some companies are also offering opportunities to take time for charity, travel and specific projects outside of their day-to-day responsibilities.

The workplace is more generationally diverse than ever.

Thanks to advances in medicine, people are living—and working—longer than ever before. Some of those born in the early 1940s—the younger members of the silent generation—remain in the workforce, along with baby boomers, Gen-Xers, and millennials. Now, members of Generation Z—those born in the mid- 90s and later—are beginning to enter the workforce, too.

This might be the first time in history there have been five generations in the workforce at the same time. Our research shows that there is a real sense of urgency from employers and managers to adapt and address the needs of all these employees. Each of these five generations has unique needs and a unique view of the workplace, so promoting intergenerational communication is a priority.

Technology and talent go hand-in-hand.

The world seems more unpredictable than ever these days, which can be a problem for managers. It’s difficult for leaders to motivate and develop their team for growth when the future is unpredictable.

But millennials may be better equipped to cope with change than other generations are, especially when it comes to technology. During their childhoods, millennials watched a technological revolution unfold that spurred shifts in society, culture and politics. Unlike Generation Z, who were born into a digital world, millennials were born into a world of typewriters but had laptops by the time they went to college.

The workplace of tomorrow will almost certainly include more technology, but we can’t predict what that will be. Millennials are not only ready to cope with those changes—they expect to. That’s one reason that we recommend investing in both talent and technology to best evolve the workplace for tomorrow.

How has the millennial generation influenced the way you work? Tell us your ideas in the comments.

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