“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence. It’s to act with yesterday’s logic.” – Peter Drucker

Many organizations are re-thinking, re-imagining, and reinventing the workplace. They are doing so for a number of reasons.  As they look at current trends, they become better at understanding future demographics.  They are not looking simply to cope with the changes, but rather to use them as a backdrop for proactive learning.  The changes have become a catalyst rather than a roadblock.

A learning organization is made up of learning individuals. That starts with the right questions:

  • How can we improve what we are doing?
  • What is the best way to grow our business in a 24/7 nonstop global community?
  • How could the changing demographics in our workplace make us faster and better at delivering services and products?
  • What needs to be changed in our processes and procedures to make us more viable?
  • How do we leverage this new generation in light of our future needs?

Millennials (1983-2001), just surpassed Gen X and Boomers as the largest generation in the U.S workforce and that will only increase in the years to come. The proactive organizations understand this.

These organizations also know that by 2020 the global talent shortage will be in full bloom.  Future employees (mostly Millennials), will expect their workplace to reflect certain characteristics.  And proactive organizations see them as advantages.

Here are 4 benefits organizations are gaining by engaging their Millennial workforce.

  1. A move toward “distributed” decision making. In traditional organizations decisions are made by central command because that’s where the information is collected.  But today, with the entrance of the internet, there is a pipeline of information available to everyone.  The skills for great decision making need to be diverse, dynamic, and ever-evolving in order to keep up with rapid change.

Distributed decision making happens when leadership rises organically. A chain of command can act like a bottleneck slowing down this highly engaging system.

Proactive organizations encourage two-way dialogue. They understand that a company must support bottom-up-decision-making power because it makes them faster and better.

  1. A need for work flexibility to meet talent shortages. Yes, there are places where virtual work doesn’t add value – mining, construction, manufacturing, etc.  But the virtual work list is growing larger and larger.

Talent pools are not always in convenient locations.  They shift overtime. So recruiting, training, and retaining talent is partly solved by having flexible working arrangements.  The attachment of certain skills to a company’s location is not as strong as it used to be.  Companies are now able to exploit employee’s skills from a variety of places.  Organizations who engage the best of this new generation understand that they have a workforce that’s wired, plugged in, connected, and empowered.

  1. More “premium” time spent on work-related issues. We know there are negative risks to being freed from the 9 to 5 cubicle.  But companies that are open to the process have a different way of thinking.  It’s a natural tendency for an organization to focus on waning loyalty and excess socializing in the office.  Yet consider this.  If Boomers hinted at work-life balance, then Generation X pushed for it.

Not so for Millennials.  It’s all fused together — more of a work-life blend. The lines for both work and life are blurred. They just do life, which includes work.  They might well be working at 10pm somewhere away from the office. That becomes premium time.

Companies that see these advantages have developed cultures that allow these two worlds to co-exist.

  1. A transformation of traditional feedback to “micro-feedback”. The days of an annual or bi-annual performance review have been replaced by a new and better process called micro-feedback. A person gets instant feedback that’s specific to certain behavior(s) in real time.  It’s usually not lengthy or a rant.  It’s spot on, to the point, and in the style of a Twitter-like response of 144 characters. It’s not only easier to understand, but also possesses a greater probability of being applied.  This also lessens the chance of feedback being taken personally instead of behaviorally.

Successful organizations go deeper than the change on the surface.  They change the way they think.  Rather than resisting the change, their thinking results in a paradigm shift that not only embraces the new reality, but also sharpens their impact.

This readies them to explore exciting opportunities coming their way.  As they engage the new workforce, they embrace the future, which in turn braces them for a great adventure.

How is your organization engaging this new workforce?  Send us a comment, or your questions.

(Mick Ukleja is the co-author of the book Managing the Millennials: Discover the Core Competencies for Managing Today’s Workforce)