Ideas Don’t Have Dress Code

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

It’s official: the millennial generation (born between 1980 and 2000), also referred to as Generation Y, now makes up the majority of the labor force in the U.S. In other words, the population aged 16 to 34 today is commanding the workplace. And they have plenty of demands to go with this milestone.

Millennials are often badmouthed. This so-called “entitled generation” is seen as a cohort of narcissistic hipsters who think they are “exceptional and necessarily worthy of respect,” as one James Richardson puts it in a piece on Medium. Others praise them for their willingness to buck the trend and establish new rules – essentially create the world they want to live in. Unlike their parents, today’s employees have zero tolerance for unfairness, stiff rules and inequality. Having a say in this is driving the best kind of change across every industry imaginable. Ideas are infinitely more powerful than dress code, and millennials know it.

‘Let us change the world’

Ray Gillenwater is probably Generation Y’s biggest supporter. In a post for Entrepreneur, he outlines four things to pay attention to when faced with a millenial workforce. Chief among them: the work has to have meaning. Many business leaders understand this and act on it – think Google with its ‘20% time’ initiative – but many others don’t. This is because most businesses today still swear by profit, age-old politics and legacy infrastructures. Millennials appreciate sleek interfaces and intuitive design because they use them and get real value out of them, not because they take the world for granted.

Young staffers are demanding new tools and more open-mindedness because they prefer not to struggle. Not wanting to struggle is normal. The reality is these demands are deeply rooted in a culture of entrepreneurship that we all aspire to, where anyone with an idea can create a startup and change the world faster than you can say Uber, Pebble, or Twitter. Not wrestling with old ideas and outdated tools means more time for creative thinking. Say what you will about the millennials in your organization, but where I come from, young folks want to drive change, not scroll through Instagram all day long.

A rigid mentality

According to a Deloitte survey of 7,800 millennials across 29 countries, only 28 percent feel that their current organization is making full use of their skills. Worse still, 75% are convinced that businesses are focused on their own agendas instead of bettering the world. Stats like these only confirm what is already visible with the naked eye. However, the remaining 25% – if indeed representative of the companies that strive to improve society – is still an encouraging number.

As we wrote recently, the world could be better a lot sooner if instead of profits, companies would focus on generating real value (which automatically generates profits anyway). Executives everywhere are notoriously oblivious to their employees needs, despite sitting on disposable income that would solve many of their grievances – a slow computer, counter-intuitive software, etc. What millennials “don’t care for” is bad leadership. By contrast, their leaders would appear not to care about them, or the future.

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