Millennials and centennials at work
INTEGRITY BEAT - Henry J. Schumacher (The Freeman) - April 5, 2019 - 12:00am

With up to four or five generations coexisting in today’s workplaces, companies must help their employees find common ground while pushing for the digital-first culture. Though face-to-face communication isn’t always possible in today’s modern workplace, immersive technologies are allowing all types of workers to collaborate in both the physical and virtual worlds.

There is no doubt in my mind that companies that intend to outlive and outperform their competition need to invest in the total development of their people, not just focusing on the skills they can use to contribute to the company’s bottom line. Leaders have to change their mind-set toward the fact that the best companies have the best people who are lifetime learners and who can think critically.

Even up to today, many companies / managers believe in a strict hierarchy and that decisions are made at the top and then are cascaded and implemented down the chain of command.

But in the digital age, where changes are happening at lightning speed, the organization – ultimately its people – has to be more dynamic – decisions have to be made faster, to avoid that the company falls by the roadside. In this kind of a scenario, it is imperative for companies to develop a dynamic workplace where decisions need not always come from the top. It is likewise ideal for the individuals to be able to work well in groups that can cut across disciplines and can be formed and reformed to specific needs.

It is not difficult to appreciate that the organization has to change from the top down, but one of the most difficult truths to get accustomed to is the speed at which even the best  plans can be uprooted.

A healthy culture of giving and receiving feedback is what is important to be cultivated, so that the company will be ready and able to change course as soon as anyone sees danger signs appear at the horizon. Also, having a culture of listening to each other across generations and keeping an open mind and acceptance of different tools, styles and preferred technologies can help.

I hear many companies complain about the unrealistic expectations of millennial workers and that millennials are sometimes difficult to manage and likely to quit at a moment’s notice.

It is time for leaders of organizations to stop debating the millennial problem, hoping that this supposedly exotic flock will get along with the programs and processes. Instead, I feel, they should see how questions and challenges from their younger employees can spark action to help their companies change for the better. It’s easy to say that young people haven’t matured enough to resign themselves to the reality of what’s possible. Yet, the young ones are asking an important question: ‘Why does it have to be this way?’ In the process of listening, leaders will soon realize that young people want the same things we all do.

Young professionals don’t want to be patronized; young people don’t want to be told what to do; they love to be given the chance to solve problems. We have seen in hackatons, that these young groups are coming up with surprising and workable solutions.

It is essential, therefore, to develop a culture of mentorship. Many young people thrive on collaborative work and support from colleagues, but few companies have figured out how to build a culture that helps existing employees to mentor new ones.

We need the right combination of high-tech and high-touch in human relations to attract and keep the right people.

We are always trying to get the message across to the young people in our organizations that they should be realistic about professional growth. However, this young generation has grown up watching entrepreneurs reach the height of success before age 30, taking on responsibilities usually reserved for older executives and gaining unprecedented wealth. Many young professionals want a chance to flex their entrepreneurial muscles; they don’t like the lack of advancement opportunity in today’s flat structures. Any kind of movement that promotes professional development is a plus.

Regarding centennials, it is important to realize that they are socially and environmentally conscious.

As such, companies need to show they are good corporate citizens and are contributing to the welfare of society to get most support. The young people don’t want to work for companies that are not in compliance with good governance. Integrity is a must!

For obvious reasons (remember, we are hiring techies), technology offered by an employer will be a factor in their eventual pick among job offers.

In closing:

The young ones want to become the biggest asset of your company;  we all like that

In dealing with them, be brave and think out of the box;

Dream jointly, inspire a team, be different, question everything, take a risk and lead change;

I strongly suggest we embrace the millennials and centennials…

And remember: The best way for an organization’s competitive edge is through the innovation of its people.

I look forward to your responses!! Email me at

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