A diverse group of millennials sitting around in a comfortable room collaborating together.
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Millennials are solving today’s workplace problems

3 Jan 2019

Cheryl Cran is examining the workplace problems of today and tomorrow, and how millennials can solve them.

There are many generalisations about millennials; that they are entitled, lazy or unwilling to put in the time to master a job.

The truth is that millennials are pushing for change – change in how companies set up work, and change in how leaders engage them at work.

Some of the current workplace problems occurring today include:

  • Digital transformation: Some companies are lagging behind with technology solutions and upgrading systems to meet modern client and employee needs
  • Leadership ability: Many leaders do not have the skills needed to lead diverse teams
  • Speed and agility: Many leaders and teams are struggling with how to keep up with fast-paced changes in the marketplace
  • Attracting and keeping top talent to keep the business moving and driving forward

These problems are common across multiple industries. The good news is that millennials are seeing these problems as opportunities.

Millennials are eager to help their leaders and teams with digital transformation, and this is an area where companies can leverage their knowledge and skill.

Millennials have enthusiasm for leveraging technology to solve problems and they are looking for opportunities to help with digital transformation.

In regard to leadership ability, what millennials lack in experience, they have in abundance with a ‘shared leadership’ mindset.

Millennials are hungry for leadership training even if they are not in a leadership position. Millennials’ attitudes about leadership are very different than traditional approaches.

They also have a healthy attitude about leadership as being an action that guides change and collaboration. They do not see leadership as an autocratic action, rather they see it as a ‘shared’ process among team members.

For example, a millennial leader navigates between multiple communication channels to connect with his or her team.

Whether group-texting the team or using IM on Facebook, a millennial leader is willing to use modern methods to communicate with his or her team.

In fact, research into the future of work is showing that email will be obsolete, and millennials are leading this change.

The future of sharing work will be through increased uptake of cloud-based solutions for document sharing, storage and access.

As millennials continue to be the majority demographic in the workplace, we will see more of their influence on creating the future of work.

Additional ways that millennials are solving workplace problems include:

  • Providing creative ideas on how companies can leverage technology to enhance client services delivery
  • Providing creative ways for companies to keep millennials engaged in the workplace, such as flexible hours, remote work and project work
  • Providing input and context for companies to set up more ‘job-share’ and ‘shared leadership’ opportunities
  • Reverse mentoring: Millennials mentoring upwards to the senior leadership team to provide context, insights and ideas on strategy and business
  • Providing impetus for change in structures and processes within the organisation

In the next five years, the workplace is going to look radically different than it does today, and much of that is due to technological innovation.

However, the real changes will happen as a result of millennials pushing for change in how work is set up, how work gets done, and how work can be both rewarding and provide growth.

The future of work will consist of a diverse reality where workplaces will have a combination of remote workers, office workers, job-share workers, rotating project workers, outsourced workers and more. The policies and structures of the past few decades no longer support the shifting attitudes about what work is and how it’s done.

Millennials are the key to ushering in the new workplace as they have the creativity, the flexibility and none of the hardwired traditional attitudes about workplaces.

All of the generations benefit from the changes that are coming for the future of work. In my opinion, the millennials are the ones that will force the changes needed to get there.

By Cheryl Cran

Cheryl Cran is a future-of-work expert and author of The Art of Change Leadership: Driving Transformation in a Fast-Paced World.

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