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Like a Boss: How Millennials Are Changing the Workplace

boss2By the year 2025 an incredible 70% of the US workforce will be comprised of Millennials—people born between 1980 and 2000. Given their coming dominance, this generation will have a huge impact on business and the workplace. But if you look closely you can see that their presence is already being felt today. Here’s how:

Leadership. Most people think of Millennial workers as the interns, junior staffers and hackers that populate companies like ad agencies and startups. But some have already moved into senior management roles. Ben Lerer (Thrillist), Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp (Birchbox), and Ryan Harwood (PureWow) are Milllennial CEOs that are successfully leading their high growth companies.

At larger ad agencies and media companies it would not be surprising to see some Baby Boomer CEOs eventually hand off power to Millennial leaders, skipping over Generation X managers. Companies are going to want leaders that can speak directly to their peers. Once that happens, Millennials will be in power for decades.

Entrepreneurship. 40% of Millennials say that they would like to start their own company and many are already excelling at it. Recently Yahoo! acquired Summly, the mobile content app, for $30 million from a 17 year old founder. Other Millennial entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg have made billions before the age of 30.

Technology. Millennials grew up digital and have no patience for lousy workplace software. As a result, the $1 trillion enterprise technology landscape is changing. Older B2B tech companies like Oracle and SAP are under pressure from the next wave of cloud-based technology firms like Salesforce.com and Box.net to rapidly upgrade their products.

We see this same dynamic playing out in the advertising industry, with upstarts like Centro and NextMark doing battle with Mediaocean for ownership of the digital media workflow.

Culture. Millennials who grew up playing sports and other team-based activities are creating workplace environments that are flatter and more transparent. Millennial companies are often structured as a collection of teams that are distributed across multiple locations. As a result, older companies are changing their hierarchical structures to be more like startups so that they can compete for Millennial talent.

Marketing. Given that 70% of all wage earners will soon be Millennials, internal marketing about compensation, benefits and retirement will increasingly cater to this demographic. For example, companies today are replacing the last of their paper-based HR systems with web and mobile-based technology.

External marketing is also increasingly targeting Millennials and their growing buying power. Everything from fast food to real estate is being rethought and geared towards this buyer. Brands that can’t successfully address the Millennial generation won’t be around for the next one.

Demographics are destiny and the rise of Millennials will irrevocably change how we work and go to market—no matter what generation we are from.

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