Are Millennials Paving the Way for the Rest of Us at Work?

Some may say they’re stubborn, entitled and spoiled, but gosh darn it, millennials are making things happen. Things that we 35+ year olds would never imagine having thought about so young in our careers. Our needs were simple; we wanted job security and structure. Millennials? They want much more, and by 2025, they will make up a very large majority of the workforce. And guess what? Those entitled young’uns are actually getting what they want! So sit back, relax, and read about all the ways in which we “old folk” will benefit at work from the rise of the millennials.


Increased Schedule Flexibility

I read a study recently showing that millennials would rather have flexibility in their work schedules than get paid more money. How times have changed! I don’t know about you, but having the flexibility of working from home – even for only a portion of the work week – is something I absolutely would never dream of being possible years ago. It’s not the way I was “raised” in the professional world. You get up, show up, do your work and sometimes stay late at the office. I actually equated those things with having a “strong work ethic”. Then the internet happened. Working remotely suddenly opened a whole new avenue of possibilities for employers, but it was mainly software companies who took advantage of it. Other companies remained skeptical, “How could I trust my employees to just sit at home in their pajamas and actually work?” There are valid reasons, of course, for being present in the office. But when there aren’t valid reasons…why not?

In essence, that’s the spirit of the millennial. They are the ones asking “why not?” And because they’ll soon become the workforce majority – employers are listening. Haven’t you noticed the many studies, articles and (ahem…) blog posts written about millennials? We’re curious about this bunch. What they want, how they behave, how to market to them, and so on.  Take Chili’s, for example. Chili’s noticed that millennials take photos of their food to share with their friends on social media. Well OK, at 40 I do the same thing; but because of this, can you believe that Chili’s now spends a very large amount of money every year on making their food more visually appealing? Yes, Chili’s actually created a special glaze to make their hamburger buns shiny in photos to improve sales! So, when this ever growing group of tech savvy, multitasking millennials makes the case for schedule flexibility, yes – managers pay attention. And in case you haven’t noticed, workplace flexibility is becoming a more common option for many non-millennials, too; whether it’s having the ability to leave early, come in late or work from home.


In essence, that’s the spirit of the millennial. They are the ones asking, “why not?”


More Frequent Feedback

Millennials are said to want constant feedback. Why? I’ve found that it’s not driven by ego, but rather a need to continually grow and learn in their roles. They want to be clear on where they stand so that, come performance review time, there are no surprises. They want more control over their development. They want role clarity and crystal clear responsibilities – all with the goal to succeed. The internet is transactional in nature. You enter your search words into a web browser, and you immediately get a list of results. Millennials were practically raised by the internet, so it’s no surprise that they don’t want to wait until once or twice per year to be told how they’re doing. Although we non-millennials may not have been raised by the internet, nor are we as vocal about wanting feedback – don’t we want all of those things?

I notice that the idea of providing more feedback is being addressed in today’s workplace, more so than it has in the past. More and more management programs are being created around professional development. One on one meetings between employees and managers are much more common. Mentor programs are being developed in companies all over. Professional development plans are being crafted for employees’ first 30, 60, and 90 days on the job. Online learning provides opportunities for ongoing training and performance improvement. Employees can even self-enroll to have more “say so” in their professional development.


Relaxed Rules

Another possible benefit from millennials are much more relaxed rules at work. I don’t want to say “back in my day”… but, back in my day, there was little to no tolerance for office banter, gathering at coworkers’ desks engaging in unnecessary chit chat about what we did or didn’t do over the weekend.  The office was a place to work. Period. And managers were there to enforce rules, and make sure we arrived and left on time. I still recall a time from years ago when I created a code word for my boss so that when she was walking our way, I’d blurt it out to my coworkers to avoid being scolded.  I remember waves of guilt when, heaven forbid, I had to visit the doctor. I remember when perfect attendance awards were a thing!

Now, all of this could be just my experience (although I swear I was not a chatterbox, never left early and had very good attendance!), but wouldn’t you agree that workplace rules have really lightened up over the years? Heck, in my current role, we have an actual area we created called “the pavilion” where my coworkers gather. It’s a table, and it’s covered with food we bring in every single day. We gather. We talk. We eat. We even play mini golf on a course that we created ourselves (I should note that the millennials on our team built it) that lies straight down the middle of the walkway between our cubicles. Not only does no one say anything, but our leadership team participates! And it works for us. We are still highly productive as a team, and I personally find that I’m much more creative in a laid back atmosphere.


So, what do you think? Are these workforce changes due to the rising number of millennials? Are we non-millennials benefitting from their “why not?” mentality? I’d love to hear your opinions! Please leave a comment below.

While you’re at it – take a look at the following link. It’s a super quick, anonymous survey. Relias is doing research on workplace behavior and satisfaction, and we really want to know what makes you tick! Check it out!

Jeanine D’Alusio

Senior Content Marketing Manager, Relias

Jeanine spends her days writing for the Health and Human Services industry at Relias. Before her career in marketing, she worked extensively in human resources and learning and development. Jeanine has more than 10 years of nonprofit experience, including as an HR Director at a multiservice behavioral health and community services organization. Jeanine is also a licensed massage therapist who enjoys helping her clients feel better in her spare time.

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