The generation is changing, but it’s not exactly like what we’ve seen before. This time, our dreams are nowhere near small and the difference we’re ought to make in the world is coming as we speak. And, if narcissism is our only flaw, then so be it; our portfolios are still brimming, our mindsets defiantly cosmopolitan and our will indefeasible. Being pragmatic, without fear of idealism, the millennial credo is strong and promising. Steadily, it transforms society and restructures the culture.
From Millennial Bliss to Working Utopia
Born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, millennials are being referred to as The Net Generation, Generation We, Global Generation and Generation Next; taken together, these signifiers summarise their collective traits while simultaneously verifying their trailblazing potential.
They are, as sociologists claim, young people defined by their strong sense of local and global community which stems tolerance and empathy, and is accustomed to open roads and endless fields of possibilities that make them overly confidant and narcissistic. As such, millennials impatiently pursue a meaningful life philosophy – in order to seize it, they replace institutions for a ramose network of individuals connected with mutual notions and the capability to bring them to action.
Most importantly, 79% of millennials have at least a Bachelor’s degree, which makes them the most educated generation in the history of mankind.
Being endowed with both brains and sentiment, millennials showcase “a deep desire to make the world a better place, combined with an understanding that doing so requires building new institutions while working inside and outside existing institutions”. In other words, the Generation Next has been irretrievably transforming the future of business from the very moment the first millennial had entered the workforce, and these 5 changes unambiguously prove so.
- The Era of the Free Agency
However influential, millennials aren’t the only ones who have been setting the ground for the all-encompassing and mainly virtual workplace we’ve suddenly found ourselves in. The Information Age to which these people are native has been affecting business structure and its employer-employee dynamic even before the downturn of the U.S. economy.
Inflicted by these factors, both hyper productivity and career uncertainty of the post 2008 economy collapse age have directly led to the modern loss of loyalty, as Reid Hoffman, the leader and founder of LinkedIn believes. The main reason for the fall of the corporate empire, as he suggests, is the fact that we are compelled to seek career stability in times when long-term employment no longer exists.
Once set in a wider socio-economic context of the “at will” age, the millennial “narcissistic whim” seems more understandable. Having entered the workforce in a moment as inopportune as this, these people have grown not spoiled and work-shy, as they are frequently characterised, but quite adaptable instead. Ultimately, their practical, solution-oriented, self-reliant and resourceful nature that’s causing a wide generational gap is nothing more than natural selection.
Introduced by millennials, the serial job hopping is therefore a consequence of both economical fluctuations and novel networking possibilities. As a result, we witness the age in which everyone with some deeper understanding of the global economy and internet connection has the ability of becoming an entrepreneur. Due to the circumstances and thanks to the highly-adaptive millennials, we now behold the age of the free agency work.
- Work-Life Integration
By possessing both academic and practical knowledge, millennials are more than qualified to take over the global workplace, and findings predict that the Generation Next will definitely comprise 75% of the U.S workforce by the end of 2020. But, another statistics seems even more important – 66% of these people showcase strong interest for starting their own business.
With their personality traits implying an unquestionable leadership prowess, the odds are certainly in their favour. Capable of being entrepreneurs, but equally intrigued by the independence allure, millennials may just be the ones to revive the old utopian dream of an equal society.
As the first revolutionary change of this generation, the free agency is restructuring working classes as we speak. Instead of hierarchical formality, this concept demands decentralisation of authority. Flexibility, as its main objective, gives millennials a chance of playing the game according to their own rules, while their innate self-confidence urges them to be less frightened, but more responsible.
The work-life balance, popularized not so long ago by generation X managers, is being redefined as well – having researched millennial changes for years, Chip Espinoza confirms that young people of today “don’t mind accessing their work life during their personal life, but they also want to access their personal life during work”. Even if it survives the overturn, sooner rather than later, the traditional office will have to adjust to the demands of millennial work-life integration and, consequently, support sporadic and temporary work.
- Online Learning
As the nine-to-five norm becomes obsolete, annual performance reviews will become extinct. Over the next couple of years, we should expect new techniques in productivity measurement, just as we should expect flexible working hours. Seemingly insignificant, this change has already started to reconstruct traditional values, and with that, education itself.
Both academic life and postgraduate training have already become accustomed to the concept of online learning. Recognizing its potential, modern organizations and talent managers now actually require online source certificates as resume prerequisites of equal value to academic credentials.
“As acceptance grows, online learning will prove essential to closing the skills gap, especially in relatively new, fast growing fields like data science, software development, digital marketing, and cybersecurity”, as Forbes stated earlier this year.
Consequently, online education becomes unavoidable for both job seekers and employees in training, just as online software for educators turns to the leading learning tool. The impact of millennial flexibility thus showcases a wider reach – not only that it’s irretrievably changing the workplace, but it’s also redirecting employment routs in return.
The modern man, millennials claim, is a connected man. We’re all very well aware of the practical changes the digital age has brought to us, and, business-wise, e-commerce, digital marketing and software development are only a few of those. Still, the global impact of the internet is a bit more far-reaching, and connectivity that lies at its core is finally being recognized as an overall sociological shift. Most importantly, it changes the way we act, live, think and it radically alters our approach to education and careerism.
“Experience has long been considered the best teacher of knowledge. Since we cannot experience everything, other people’s experiences, and hence other people, become the surrogate for knowledge” writes George Siemens, a theorist and a researcher on learning.
It’s been a decade since his revolutionary article “Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age” has been published, and now, we have the pleasure of witnessing his words as they come alive. Although individualistic in their goals, millennials are collaborative beings that learn through networking and thus demand, as we’ve seen, new educational methods, as well as new ways of implementing their knowledge.
Passive learning and traditional productivity reviews will be a thing of the past any second now, replaced by the all-embracing network of intellectual exchange. Practically, this means the end of the working environment as we once knew it and the beginning of the all-inclusive virtual co-working space in which knowledge will be obtained through experience and collaboration.
- Cultural Awareness
Unlike previous generations, millennials “have a triple bottom line way of thinking — a focus on people and planet, in addition to profit”, notices Gloria Cordes Larson in a Fortune article. Taken together, their aforementioned sense of local and global community and their need for collaborative learning revoke cosmopolitanism, but also imply emotional intelligence.
Millennial managers, as opposed to their predecessors, are eager to embrace concepts of self-awareness, self-regulation and relationship building as factors crucial for managing a productive workplace. Additionally, a study conducted by Bentley University has shown that 95% of millennials deeply care about corporate ethics policies, including 22% to which the environment is the most important issue of today. And, hence the alternative name for the millennials – Generation We.
Open-minded, diverse and emotionally intelligent, these people have made culture a currency for the new age.
From the classroom to the office and back again, the Generation Next has already made substantial changes that influence not only the environment in which we study and work, but also the environment in which we live. Collaborative, ambitious and network-based, these people will hopefully leave their mark on society much longer than generations before them.