Did you ever wonder who is changing the rules of the workplace? Is it mainly technology? Most of the advances in the tech world did not begin until 1900, yet now it seems there is a new something every week.

And what about information? It's coming at us fast and furious. There is more information since 1965 till now than was available in the 5000 years from 3000 B.C. until 1965. There are so many ways to gain knowledge today and quicker ways to find the answers.

And then there are people, more of us and counting. Within a span of seventy-five years from 1860 to 1935 the head count doubled. Then in only forty years it doubled again. Now we are over six billion and there seems to be a race to get to ten billion by 2035.

And each new generation makes up new rules for work, as the three basics of technology, information and population morph and require us to change.

Who drives the changes at work?

The Millennials are now pushing the edges of what work looks like.

We can work from wherever and talk to whoever any time of the day or night. Cubicles are old, open space is now, and wherever is the new norm.

We no longer stay in one position or one company for our 30 or 40 years to get a sendoff dinner, plaque and watch.

The death of loyalty.

I had stopped in to hear the speech from the Vice President of Sales. I was next to the CEO of the company and sitting behind two young, well-polished guys, I guessed were in their late twenties.

The VP was funny and charismatic. He paused and with great pride talked about his 25 years with the company. At that moment the two in front of us turned to each other and in a quizzical manner said, "Why would he stay so long? Sounds awful."

The CEO turned to me and whispered, "Loyalty is dead, in case you haven't noticed."

"So, what is still alive?" I was curious to get his answer.

He thought for a moment and responded, "Respect."

"That's it?"

"Look, I don't expect anyone to stay here for their entire career. But they should stay as long as they are learning and growing. I honestly believe what separates good leaders and great companies is how they show their employees they respect them."

What stays forever?

I did some research and the CEO is right on. The companies that treat their employees with dignity and appreciation, that give folks, regardless of where they are on the age continuum, the ability to be involved with the deeper purpose of the business and treat them with respect, are today's winners.

What I know is that in all companies I have consulted with around the world there are really only two main concepts that well never change: the desire to be heard and the yearning to be acknowledged.

This is how you can show respect 21st Century style.

Here is a clue to how you can language that respect. Saying "I respect you" is out of an old 1940's film. Instead tell your co-workers, your direct reports, your boss how much you value them and give them a simple "thank you."

That will never go out of style.

Published on: Jul 28, 2015
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