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Tips from Fortune 500 Execs about Leading Millenials

A young woman and two men posing amidst the fact that Millennials in the Workplace are Shaping Businesses and Leadership

Given their sheer size, millennials (or Gen Y) are definitely making their mark in the world, edging out baby boomers and Gen Xers in various industries. Currently, millennials in the workplace make up roughly one-third of the global workforce. Attracting millennials is now a multi-pronged opportunity for companies. Millennials truly are a segment of society that needs to be understood to create a significant impact on businesses. By 2050, they will have made up half of the work population across the globe. This is now a growing priority for companies in how they hire, retain, and engage this growing workforce. If companies fail to discern the potentials of the millennials and evolve their company culture they are risking their business’ viability and growth.

Bold Business recently interviewed a variety of senior executives and Chief Diversity Officers from Fortune 500 companies at the Diversity MBA National Conference on their approach and solutions to this issue. Watch and read about their critical and meaningful insights into how they are approaching millennial values and their impact on company culture:

Recruiting Around Values

Millennials demonstrate a mindset or thinking that revolves around being socially conscious in all aspect of their lives. They take stock in where businesses spend their money and how they contribute to society as a whole. They are early adopters of a new way of working that is spreading to other generations. Companies need to shift their mindset into hiring and rewarding the Gen Yers by demonstrating that they have these common values and aspirations.

And there are big differences in attitudes between millennials and previous generations.

So some values of decades-long companies may be outdated or incompatible with the younger people they are hiring. Older companies may value commitment, tenure, and obedience, but millennials believe in work-life balance, learning new skills, and innovation. Discrepancies in values between generations are inevitable. However, companies that strive to be successful and agile must consider adopting millennial values to attract top millennial talent.

Engaging Beyond Work

Millennials believe in the importance of belongingness.  Consequently, companies are putting a huge emphasis on employee engagement. “Some of the things that we’re trying to do [are], number one, engage those millennials in an employee resource group as soon as possible upon being hired to Nielsen,” said Angela Talton, Chief Diversity Officer of Nielsen.

Employee resource groups are small organizations within a company that focus on a wide range of interests and advocacies. These groups could be about women in the workplace, fitness, and well-being, LGBT representation, environmentalism, food, traveling, and sports, among many other causes. Finding people that support the same interests is an important part of community integration. They find like-minded people to forge meaningful relationships with, and this essentially helps retain and engage millennials in the workplace.

At Nielsen engagement goes beyond groups. For instance, they have physically changed the way their office spaces look and function. Now they have more open floor plans with provisions for common spaces for collaboration and open conversation.

The Gig Economy

No matter how virtuous staying at an eight-to-five job for years and years might be, this is simply no longer the case for millennials in the workplace. Millennials value compartmentalized time which they can use to focus on other interests. The term “gig economy” perfectly sums up their approach to work engagement. They strive to work different jobs simultaneously because they do not want to feel stagnant in their careers. Some people could be Finance managers and also be fitness experts—and they do these jobs every day.

Companies should then consider implementing more flexible work arrangements. Catering to the preferred work schedules of employees could strengthen employee satisfaction and productivity, knowing that they are valued and accommodated. Companies could also save on substantial salary expenses under this type of arrangement.

Company Culture and Work-Life Balance

Millennials in the workplace prefer to have meaningful, purposeful jobs. They want to know that what they work for bear fruit. “They value work-life balance and making sure they have that time just as much as they’re valuing the pay that they’re getting,” said Rebecca Lupfer, Director of Merchandise Planning of GIANT Food Stores.

Working long hours in the office is not always reasonable. To millennials in the workforce, work-life balance is a sign of success when they have ample time to enjoy the life they aspire for. Millennials are also moving up the management ladder, settling down, and starting their own families. As they value experiences more than anything else, they value time spent with their loved ones.

Millennials are a generation that grew with the Internet. Even if they are on vacation, they can quickly check emails, contact co-workers, or put in a few hours of work. As long as they can enjoy life outside of hard work, then that meets their expectations of work-life balance. Businesses like The Clorox Company are creating flexible working environments for their employees. It provides employees with numerous opportunities to relax and recharge. For instance, many Clorox offices in North America observe half-day summer Fridays to help employees balance their work and personal lives, ease the commute and get an early start on enjoying the weekend.

Empowering Voices in Company Culture

Millennials are a boldly vocal generation. They fervently believe in certain causes, and they would appreciate that their voices, ideas, and insights are heard and validated. That’s why employee resource groups are important to companies. These make their working experiences more meaningful as they make significant contributions to their communities. As long as their voices count for something, they are empowered and motivated to keep working on their passions.

Recognition through Rewards

“We’ve actually spent some time thinking about how we can have a flexible employee value proposition. We’re right now undertaking total rewards redesign work,” said Kirsten Marriner, Chief People Officer of The Clorox Company.

It’s important for businesses to recognize that millennials are crucial members of the workforce. Companies could give employees better benefits, incentives, promotions, and other types of rewards. Companies should not underestimate the kind of motivation prizes and rewards incite. Therefore, having a comprehensive rewards and incentives system is a tried and tested way of retaining employees.

Millennials in the Workforce Value Mentorship over Managers

Millennials in the workplace are all about leveraging their knowledge and skills to make a difference. Thus they look to meaningful mentorship to learn and unlearn, to widen and hone their expertise, and to grow in their respective careers. They want to connect and collaborate with people with unparalleled knowledge, experience, and clout so they too can have a similar impact in society. While managers are only slightly different than mentors, mentors teach millennials more than just work. Mentors guide them to be better leaders and decision-makers and to be better human beings in general.

Mentors are seasoned individuals who want their employees to succeed in their careers and other aspects of their lives. Global companies like Intel, General Electric, and Deloitte have their own iterations of mentorship programs. These are the kind of workplaces millennials are going for to grow and develop into experts in their own fields.

Social Responsibility

Indeed, this younger generation knows how much the world is struggling in many different ways—the environment, gender issues, political injustice, hunger, poverty, and more. Therefore, they want to know that companies they work for pay attention to these urgent issues.

Marsha Jones said, “They want to be able to know that the organization really cares about making a difference, cares about connecting with the communities that they’re serving.” Companies that consequently try to use their huge platforms to make life better for others is always a top choice for millennials.

Millennials in the Workplace—Primed for Growth and Leadership

Millennials are often termed the Internet generation. They are fast learners with diverse passions and interests. They want to work on things that are meaningful and have a deep impact within their communities. Companies then need to invest in preparing themselves to be a top choice for millennial employees. Neglecting to understand a consistently growing segment of the workforce would be detrimental to any company culture. For businesses of the future to succeed, they need to hire people who are eager to innovate. Millennials in the workforce may be puzzling for some in the older generations, but they have admirable qualities that redefine and refine what it means to work, and what it means to be leaders in today’s changing society.


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