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Can the unretired, forgotten, and feedback generation work together?

Millennials are not the only generation at work; Generation X and Boomers combined are the majority of our employees today.  Generation X is present, although it seems to have lost its place in history, and even now are being called the “forgotten middle child”.  Boomers are here and will stay in the workforce longer than ever before, creating the new age of un-retirement.  Workforce 2020, an independent, global study by Oxford Economics with support from SAP, found that all generations want much of the same thing.  This study surveyed over 5,400 participants from over 27 countries, and 50% of respondents were Millennials!

Millennials are not as different as we think

We learned from the study that compensation is the biggest driver of employee satisfaction for Millennials globally.  Training is as important to Millennials as it is to non-Millennials looking for ways to stay relevant in a fast paced world.  Work-life balance and retirement plans are important regardless of generation.  Of course there are regional differences, and in some countries, training and development was ranked higher in importance to Millennials than compensation, but globally, compensation was ranked the highest.

What seems to work for Millennials

Inevitably, Millennials and their impact on the workforce of the future is a recurrent topic in all major HR and CHRO summits around the world.  More companies are making it a priority to engage this generation in their own terms.  I’d like to share some insights I learned first-hand after interacting with a number of Fortune 1000 CHROs and listening to their priorities over the last two months:

Modernizing jobs: Companies are creating new jobs and job descriptions to cope with the new nature of work.  They are focused on offering flexible work locations and work schedules.  They are redesigning the career paths to be focused on cross functional exposure rather than a vertical path to management.  And they are including globalization and global working experience as part of their leadership programs.

Creating experiences:  Most successful companies are focusing on creating the best applicant experience from the time applicants reach the recruitment portal through the interview cycles.  Millennials are very interested in learning about the company’s values, culture, and sustainability practices.  Companies are thus injecting a sense of purpose into their company’s vision and every position.

Keeping engagement alive:  Companies are working on assimilating new employees in to their culture by leveraging onboarding portals that allow new hires to make the most efficient transition into the organization, learn, explore, and interact with peers and managers.  Onboarding is no longer just about getting the equipment and badge ordered and delivered; it’s about keeping the engagement alive after the hiring process.

Speaking in their language:  At one of the HR conferences, a large Telecom Company shared that they are making great progress engaging their Millennial workforce at more than 1,000 stores around the U.S.  They are ensuring that all of their internal communications include the How (tell me exactly what I need to do), the Why (why I’m doing it), the What is in it for me (reward for outcome, and is not necessarily money).  After listening to this strategy, a panel of Millennials—composed of entrepreneurs, college students, and employees of Fortune 100 companies—provided this unanimous feedback: give me a channel in which I can innovate the process (the How), make me feel the task at hand is meaningful (the Why), and make me feel that my ideas count (the What is in it for me).

Collective Intelligence = all generations’ intelligence

The rise of Millennials into leadership positions and their interaction with Xers and Boomers will continue to increase.  However, the dynamics of the relationship will be different.  Leadership teams of the future (a near one) will be more diverse, not only in cultures, beliefs, and gender, but in age as well.  Millennials will inject a new flexible and adaptable leadership style, supported by their collaborative approach, social learning, and desire to full transparency.  While not all Baby Boomers and Xers will be successful in the transition to the teams of the future, those who are will enjoy a more collaborative, transparent, and feedback-rich environment.

What do you think about Millennials in the workforce?  If you want to learn more about this topic, download the complete Workforce 2020 Oxford Economics Research.  I encourage your feedback and invite you to share any of your best practices in creating a bridge among all generations via LinkedIn, Twitter, and

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  • It doesn't take long to see that all these blogs on Millennials on SCN are part of highly-executed, marketing campaign.

    Do you think Millennials react well to organized campaigns like this campaign is running on SCN for the last several months, or do other marketing techniques need to be used 😉 ?

    • Stephen,  you are correct in pointing out that we do have an entire series of blogs dedicated to The Oxford-SAP Workforce 2020 Study . However,  we are addressing other findings from our study as well: the leadership cliff, the learning mandate, and the new face of work.  After meeting with dozens of C level executives in the last few  months I noticed that all of them, in different ways, were aware and working on solving the challenges a multigenerational workforce brings to the way we communicate, retain, and develop leaders in our organizations .  My blog’s goal is to leverage this collective intelligence by sharing best practices and thoughts on this topic.  I' m happy to discuss any questions you might have after reading the full study via  email at

  • They are ensuring that all of their internal communications include the How (tell me exactly what I need to do), the Why (why I’m doing it), the What is in it for me (reward for outcome, and is not necessarily money)

    D'OH !!  I, for one, welcome our new millenial overlords !! (I guess management really IS rocket science)

    IT professionals have known for years that much of the ' management' structure above and around them is about command and control. Being able to work from home means I am a financialy sensible alternative to my employer having a part-timer in Israel (and the US, and the UK, and Australia... to name the last four systems I worked on).


    • Martin, thanks for reading and posting your comments. The global company I refer on my blog tested many different ways to reach their diverse workforce before they found out that the "what " without the "why" and "outcome/rewards" was not an effective way to communicate a new process or way of working. Also, to your point., flexible work location and/or schedules is a trend that will increase, specially when competing for global talent.  We have great country specific results you can access in the links provided in my blog. I trust you'll finding interesting.

      • Hi Giancarlo,

        Sarcasm (at least mine) doesn't always translate well 😆

        The point I was making, in a roundabout way, was that it appears that treating people like adults has positive results. The fact that some (not all) management teams are only just working this out is a condemnation of those management teams. Furthermore, these techniques are effective with all age groups, not just millennials.

        BTW, I know I was showing my age with a simpsons reference - My three children are all in high-school and they all younger than the Simpsons.


  • Does 'Search before post' rule not apply to the Business Trends space? What does this blog add that the previous 1001 SCN blogs on Millennials haven't said already?

    Hereby I officially propose an addendum to ROE to ban this subject from SCN. Enough is enough. 😡

    • With Gen Y as 1980s to early 2000s, methinks we are in for another 5 years of this debate.

      Then it'll be the same undertones with different buzz words for the next generation.