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Why Millennials Will Forever Change The Workforce

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Nov. 25 2014, Published 2:00 a.m. ET

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With Baby Boomers starting to retire in droves and insufficient numbers of Generation X to take their places (a few of them are retiring as well), millennials are rapidly becoming a necessary part of every company’s workforce plan.

By the year 2020 millennials will be half of America’s workforce. While Gen-Y is more than willing to jump into the shoes of their superiors – in high growth companies, 31 percent of leaders are already millennials – many recruiters are concerned, not only about whether or not this new group is truly qualified, but also about how much “trouble” they will cause.

From my own experience working with these young adults, I can confidently say that today’s typical millennial is not the egotistical, challenger of authority that they are often portrayed to be. In, “Hiring Millennials: The Generation That Changes Everything, I shed light on stereotypical myths that plague the millennial title in an attempt to foster a better understanding of this generation at work.

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One of the most common misunderstandings of this generation is that millennials will disrespect their superiors and continuously disobey company policies. Another misconception is that they will purposefully reject authority and be a constant disruption. In many instances, these are misconceptions of a group of hardworking individuals who are eager to contribute but not willing to blindly follow the ‘cow path.’

A millennial may indeed challenge some things in the workplace, but only to offer a fresh perspective and to help increase efficiency by calling attention to areas where they see room for improvement. Yes, work policies that seem illogical won’t go unquestioned and processes where technology can be better leveraged will be called out, but the good in this is that millennial workers will not only help flush out inefficient or outdated practices, but they will also take the extra step to think up and recommend a better approach. They have been raised to see feedback as a two-way street, and will be resourceful and logical in their suggestions.

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And yes, many millennials will also challenge the traditional work model, but why shouldn’t they? As they see it, in today’s market, nothing is sacred. It’s ‘change or die.’ For example, to a millennial, as long as deadlines are being met, why does it matter when or where the work gets done? They will respect the traditional eight to five schedule if there are customers to serve or group effort is critical to the work product, but will relish a position with some flexibility, particularly shorter “core hours” that support better work-life balance. They will also push for more team-oriented work as the entire generation consists of natural-born collaborators. They are inclusive and experienced at guiding groups to consensus, and know that the collaborative output has many times proven to be better and faster.

Those who are part of Generation-Y are intrepreneurs by nature, so they have an intrinsic drive to continuously grow and improve. They will jump at the chance to contribute to a new business development or project, even if it is more advanced than their current level of experience.

Rules about who gets to play in the reinvention of business need to change. Millennials are proven creatives who think outside of the box more consistently as a generation than their predecessors, and these intrepreneurial spirits desire the chance to be part of building something new. It’s a win-win; you get great new ideas while they get to do something that is really making a difference, and that is what they see as being important.

The sooner organizations engage with this generation, the better. They might start out a little rough around the edges, but given the chance to adjust to a company’s culture and a little guidance, they will be shaped into the productive, contributing employees who will help take your company to new levels of excellence.

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