We’re all in this together.
If you’re a millennial, you’re probably humming along with Zac, Vanessa and the rest of the cast of High School Musical when you hear those words. If you’re a Gen Xer or baby boomer, you might not be feeling the music, but I want you to feel the love.
As we approach May and a new crop of graduates heads into the workforce, let’s unite from a place of solidarity. Millennials often get a bad rap, but — as you know — I believe a lot of those negative stereotypes are unwarranted. The thing is, we need millennials to be successful. Here’s why.
Millennials will soon make up half of the workforce.
There’s been a lot of attention focused on the fact that millennials have surpassed Gen Xers and baby boomers as the largest generation in the workforce. That’s just the beginning: By 2020, millennials will make up half of the global workforce.
But that also means that half of the workforce will not be millennials. The point is not that they are taking over, but that we all have to learn to work together.
Millennials contribute to the diversity that our companies need.
Almost every company today is eager to tout its philosophy of diversity and inclusion. It’s the right thing to do, but it’s also the smart thing to do. From cultural diversity to gender diversity, these different points of view allow companies to make better decisions that reflect their diverse customers. There is even evidence that gender-diverse boards perform better: One study found better financial performance among companies with higher representation of women board directors, and the same is no doubt true for other measures of diversity.
Millennials are not a problem to be solved.
Let’s all agree to stop seeing millennials as a problem. Let’s stop trying to figure out how to fix them or change them. Instead of a problem to be solved, millennials are an opportunity to be leveraged.[bctt tweet=”Instead of a problem to be solved, millennials are an opportunity to be leveraged.” username=”lindseypollak”]
Am I giving this advice because I just want every workplace to be nice, friendly and intergenerationally singing kumbaya? No. I’m saying this because it’s a business imperative.
You bend over backwards for your customers. They want a trophy? Awesome! If you’re a marketer, you’re asking, “How big should those trophies be?” “How shiny?” You’re not grousing that no one gave you a trophy. You’re figuring out how to provide your customers with what they want.
Guess what? Millennial employees are “buying,” too. They’re buying your workplace. So why not try to sell it to them, to attract the best employees you can?
No matter what your industry, Millennials are your future leaders, so implementing strategies to attract and retain them will make your organization the most successful. Thinking strategically about your millennial workforce will also save you money — if employees are happy, they’re less likely to quit, meaning you can take a break from the costly and exhausting hamster wheel of recruiting and training new talent.
That’s why when I talk to CEOs, managers, college counselors and anyone who works with millennials in any business capacity, I tell them: Learning how to work with millennials is not something we’re doing to be nice. Supporting millennials won’t just help them. It will ultimately help all of us. (Oh, and it’s good to be nice, too!)
Your turn. What do you think? What’s your business case for supporting millennials? Please share in the comments!
Lindsey Pollak is the leading voice on millennials in the workplace, trusted by global companies, universities, the world’s top media outlets — and, most importantly, by millennials themselves. A New York Times bestselling author, Lindsey began her career as a dorm RA in college and has been mentoring millennials — and explaining them to other generations — ever since. Her keynote speeches have audiences so engaged that, in the words of one attendee, “I didn’t check my phone once!” Contact Lindsey to discuss a speaking engagement for your organization.