When people think about the future of work they immediately gravitate towards talking about how millennials are changing the way things get done. You may have heard some of the stats that millennials are going to comprise 50% of the workforce by 2020 and 75% of the workforce by 2025. However, you may have also heard that millennials want things such as workplace flexibility, real-time feedback, competitive compensation, coaching and mentoring, a job that aligns with their personal values, and a "cool" work environment. While all of these things may be true they are also not millennial exclusive! If you were to get rid of every single millennial at your organization you would still have plenty of employees that care about all of these things. In fact, it's a bit crazy to think otherwise.
Of course there are some differences, for example, many millennials may not know what it's like to: commute an hour and a half each way to and from work, work 9-5 in an office, use legacy technologies, or get hundreds of emails a day. We have painted millennials with a bit of a broad brush without considering that they are not the only generation of workers that is changing and evolving. In fact, some of the articles about millennials make them seem like scary, alien-like beings that are going to cause havoc on the world. Many of the attributes mentioned above are valued by every worker regardless if they're 22 or 62. The "future employee" isn't a millennial (although they are certainly included in the mix), he/she is an employee with a new set of behaviors, attitudes, and ways of working regardless of age. Recently, SAP teamed up with Oxford Economics to conduct the Workforce 2020 survey which revealed many startling findings that conclude, millennials are actually just like everyone else (even though our parents told us how special we are).
Here's a video I did on this topic a few months ago which I encourage you to watch.
Now although the emphasis we have been placing on millennials is a bit over emphasized, I still think it's a great thing because it is acting as a very powerful catalyst to force organizations to change...or to at least think about change. When I speak with organizations at conferences and events "millennials" is still one of the hottest topics that comes up. In fact, if I had to pick one of the things that managers are freaking out about the most "millennials" would be right at the top of that list, and you know what? They should be! Because although they might not realize it, the fact that they are so concerned with a single generation that is just like everyone else means that they are actually thinking about evolving their organizations for every employee.
Still, I would encourage these organizations to shift the conversation away from "how do we attract millennials" or "what do millennials want at work" to "how do we attract top talent" and "what do our employees want at work." And while we should certainly be paying attention to millennials and how the demographics of our organizations are changing, let's also not forget about the five trends shaping the future of work (of which millennials are one of).
So be afraid...be very, very afraid
Jacob Morgan is a futurist, best-selling author and keynote speaker, learn more by visiting The Future Organization.com or check out his latest book,"The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders and Create a Competitive Organization," on Amazon.