As a generations speaker, trainer, and consultant, I spend my days thinking about how Millennials and Generation Z will impact the workplace of tomorrow and how leaders and organizations must adjust to capitalize on the trends. 

The reason Millennials are the most highly scrutinized generation of all time is that they put a face to the change that every industry and individual is facing in today's turbulent times. Now more than ever, the next generation provides data points into what's next...what's next for your business, leadership, communication, marketing, etc.  

The better you understand the emerging generations, the better positioned you'll be to thrive in 2018 and beyond. (Read this to better understand Millennials and read this to get to know Generation Z.)

1. Learning and Development Becomes Paramount

Seventy-one percent of Millennials who are likely to leave an organization in two years are dissatisfied with how their leadership skills are being developed. And more and more emerging Generation Z professionals are likely to forego a traditional college education to go to work for an employer who offers university-like training. "[Generation Z] students are asking corporate recruiters whether companies will help them get new skills as jobs shift," says James Manyika, chairman of the McKinsey Global Institute. 

Learning and development is critical because it's one of the few organizational aspects that touches every phase of the employee lifecycle. Learning and development will be even more critical moving forward because the emerging generations know they will have highly varied and the longest careers of any generation before them. Learning and development will be the lifeblood of their careers, and they'll be looking to their employer to provide it.  

As work cycles spin faster, the re-skilling and developing of employees becomes paramount. Cutting-edge companies like AT&T, GE, Visa, Qualcomm and IBM are investing in microlearning platforms (much like 21Mill.com) to help them pivot into the world of continuous and on-demand learning and development in order to attract and retain Millennials and Generation Z. (Read this to learn how to effectively train Millennials in the workplace.)

2. B2B Buying and Selling Evolves

The Internet has forever changed how consumers buy and sell goods and services, but it has yet to transform B2B buying and selling at the same magnitude. Dwindling are the days of solidifying new B2B partnerships via a handshake on the golf course.  

Seventy-three percent of Millennial workers are involved in decisions to purchase products or services for their companies or their own business, and 34 percent are the sole decision-makers regarding purchases. As more and more Millennials step into decision making roles, they will be open to re-evaluating long-standing relationships and legacy processes or procedures.  

Buyers are now as much as 57 percent of the way through the buying process before actually engaging with a seller. Millennial B2B buyers cited Internet search and vendors' websites as their two top means of researching products and services, and 82 percent of Millennial B2B buyers said mobile devices were important when researching new products and services. Historically the sales process has been very linear--qualifying, educating, creating interest/need, and closing-- but the Millennial B2B buyer prefers a different process. 

The Millennial B2B buyer will gather information up front by consuming information via social networks, videos, blogs, podcasts, etc. As a result, sellers have to do much more work attracting vs prospecting. (Read this for eight keys to selling to the Millennial B2B buyer.)

3. Employer Branding Rises in Relevance

"Millennials are the most likely generation to not do business with a company where they have had a poor experience as a job applicant," says Adam Robinson, the co-founder and CEO of Hireology

"What's different today is your company brand is your employment brand and it is the most important asset you possess. That was not the case fifteen years ago. Companies are compelled to invest in their employment brand like they have their consumer or market-facing brands," says Robinson.

Seventy percent of candidates look to [company] reviews before they make career decisions and 69 percent are likely to apply to a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand (e.g., responds to reviews, updates their profile, shares updates on the cutler and work environment).

With over 10 million unique monthly users on Glassdoor by Millennials and Generation Z, it's critical companies prioritize their employer brand on Glassdoor. Glassdoor is rapidly becoming the go-to resource for unbiased data about companies. The validated and useful reviews that Glassdoor provides about companies and management influence the next generation on what opportunities to pursue and the companies they decide to go to work for.

4. The Emphasis on Employee Experience Enhances

With only 29 percent of Millennials being engaged at work, companies will scramble to find ways to increase engagement by offering my robust and unique experiences.

A major contributor to the rise and relevance of employee experience is the growing representation of Millennials in the workplace. The presence and expectations of Millennials have required organizations to fundamentally redefine the programs, policies, and perks offered.

Previous generations learned to keep silent about the change they wanted, but Millennials are vocalizing the change they want. Millennials are eager to go to work for organizations where they want, not need, to show up. More experience-seeking Millennials in the workplace means that a shift to experience-centric organizations is needed to attract, retain, and engage the Millennial worker.

5. The Structure and Cadence of Feedback Transforms

Continuously listening to your employees is the key to positive employee experiences. Considering 75 percent of the 2025 global workplace will be Millennials and Generation Z, it's critical that organizations keep a pulse on employee engagement and in a way that's consistent with how the emerging generations communicate. 

The feedback architecture of organizations must evolve from infrequent touch points (e.g. annual reviews) to more routine and fluid touch points (e.g. pulse surveys). Innovative organizations are interacting with their employees on a weekly basis using tools like TINYpulse, Waggl, Culture AMP, and Glint. The consistent open-ended (and sometimes anonymous) touch points provide the relevant data organizations need to pinpoint where the employee experience can be improved. 

Published on: Jan 17, 2018