Life is a contradiction. We are awash with good intentions, performative actions, anger, and apathy. We’ve never had it so good; or so bad. Everything is changing faster than ever yet progress is also extremely slow. Technology is going to make us work smarter not harder; things have never been so complicated. 

Which is true? All of it and also none of it! For this week’s blog I’m taking a look at some of the recent research that points to what organizations should be prioritizing right now. Spoiler alert: it’s people and purpose. Because in all of this chaos and confusion, the only thing we can control is ourselves and our own actions. 

Survey says…

The Cone Communications Millennial Employee Study found that 64% of millennials won’t take a job if it doesn’t have a strong corporate social responsibility policy, and 83% would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues.

Great Place to Work found that millennials, more than any other generation, are seeking equity, transparency, flexibility and purpose. And they’re not afraid to quit if an employer doesn’t meet their needs or match their values

Combine this with data showing that more than half of American workers are planning to look for a new job ⁠— the figure is even higher for department managers (62%) and managers of multiple departments (72%) — and it’s clear that businesses must do more to attract and retain a stable workforce. 

What does ‘doing more’ look like?

  • A company with a well defined mission that is clearly articulated
  • Leaders that role model the values and behaviors they want to see
  • Personalized career paths and development opportunities
  • Coaches not managers
  • Flexibility and empowerment
  • Balance (work-life) and change (societal).

This doesn’t happen overnight of course, but there are some fundamental realizations that leaders need to come to about the future of work and there’s no time to waste. 

Older generations did not expect workplaces to take a stand or fight for change. Often, our work focus was inward — now it needs to be outward. In previous generations there was a clear delineation between our work lives and our personal lives. Now, that is not just blurred, it is eroded entirely. Millennials and Gen Z employees are increasingly looking for purpose alignment in their work. They are seeking out employers who care about their health and wellbeing, and cultures where they can bring their whole selves to work. 

The changes that our current and future workforces want — and will demand — to see has to start now at the highest level. Change is hard, change is scary. The alternative — to stay the same — has much bleaker prospects. 

Change starts with you

Start by listening. Listen to your employees’ experiences. Listen to what they want and what’s important to them. 

Apply metrics and money. Saying you support diversity, equity and inclusion is meaningless without commitment, action and a way to measure success. Be transparent about where your business is right now, where it needs to be and how it will get there. 

Millennials and Gen Z have the potential to be your most productive work generation — provided you can deliver on your side of the deal. What’s stopping you?